The Last of Gourmet Magazine

What sad news. It is the end of an era. I learned to cook from Gourmet Magazine. When I was a graduate student at Yale, with the first kitchen to call my own, I would  look forward each month to selecting new recipes to cook. I daydreamed about trips to countries I had yet to visit, restaurants I would put on the list of places to try, if I ever got there. In my tiny student apartment I felt like the soul of elegance, having prepared senegalese soup, duck a l’orange, crabmeat Maryland, coquilles St Jacques, and sole Normande. What Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking  was for many, Gourmet was for me.

I was thrilled when I saved enough money to buy their first cookbook, a weighty tome in a brown cover with gold print.  The pages on my 1958 editions of the Gourmet Cookbook, Volumes One and Two and the 1963 Gourmet Menu cookbook are stained with the juices of recipes I have cooked for years. Gateau Rolla, gougeres, madeleines, souffle Rothchild, croquembuche, caviar hors d’oeuvre roll, the Christmas roast goose stuffed with fruit, so many of my family’s holiday favorites came from those pages.  Looking through these books today, the recipes still seem inviting and some, even ahead of their time.

The power of their restaurant reviews was formidable. When Square One was reviewed  by Caroline Bates, people would come into my restaurant clutching the review in their hands. They trusted Gourmet to tell them where to go and what was memorable on the menu.

I must confess I did not enjoy the magazine as much when Ruth Reichl took it over. The tone changed, the recipes became more casual, and there were fewer recipes I wanted to try.  But it is sad to see a classic fade away. We will mourn the loss of Gourmet magazine. It was a culinary touchstone.

3 thoughts on “The Last of Gourmet Magazine

  1. I feel your pain. Although I adore quick and fabulous weeknight meals, the rewards of a lovingly and carefully prepared meal cannot be overstated. The demise of Gourmet is so telling. Also, why can’t I learn how to cook something delicious on the Food Network? Who wants to bake a cake that looks like an amusement park or a Disney character? What does that have to do with “food”?

    Fortunately we have many wonderful foodie friends, such as my friend Pam who treated us to a trip to see Julie and Julia followed by a day of cooking our way through ten courses from MTAOFC. And also our adventurous Gourmet Group which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! There is hope!

    PS Had the pleasure of dining at your table several years ago at Yosemite’s Chef’s Holidays. Have served your Braciolettini di maiale al ragu many times with much success. Thank you!

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  2. I feel the same way…thank goodness I saved my years of favorite back issues, from 1986 to 1998.
    Civilization as we know it has somehow changed. My mother is the same age as Gourmet!…It’s almost like a death in the family.
    No other magazine meets the standard.
    Do you think there is hope for a strictly on-line version of Gourmet?
    My treatise to this great institution is on my website. http://heiressarts.blogspot.com/
    Athena Creamer, author “The Impressive Art of Straightening the Home.”

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  3. Miss Joyce

    Yes, it is so sad. I grew up pouring over my neighbor’s collection of Gourmet magazines. It seemed the key to a glamorous, delicious world where people ate sophisticated meals around tables laden with bounty, an alternate reality to mine…where I ate halting bites of ham loaf on a utilitarian formica table in the heart of the Midwest. Gourmet led me to cooking, cooking school, and a life as a food writer. Hope this means the world won’t go back to ham loaf…
    Thanks for your splendid recollections.

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