Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Above the Fold
I haven't had the chance to post about this sooner, but I'm sure that most of you have heard that Gourmet magazine has folded, it's final issue hitting newsstands this month. As someone who puts together magazines for a living, the news was devastating, traveling through my office like the world's most depressing game of telephone where everyone hopes they've misunderstood. But aside from the fact that with every magazine that closes my industry's survival rate drops dramatically, this particular closure hit me on a deeper level. I've worked for some wonderful magazines comprised of hard-working people who really manage to pull out some great work considering the kind of deadlines we work under month after month. But whenever someone asked me what magazine I'd most like to work for, the answer was always Gourmet.
From the photography to the philosophy, it's the mainstream magazine that most embodied what I believe in from a food point of view. I've always been a huge fan of its editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl, and loved reading her books chronicling her time as the New York Times' controversial restaurant critic in the 90's. Her book Garlic and Sapphires talks about how she came to her job at Gourmet and how she initially felt quite undeserving of the position. What some considered her "radical" ideas were just what the magazine needed to bring in a young and informed audience looking for more than just a digest of recipes. From hiring writers like the late David Foster Wallace to investigating food slavery, Reichl not only invigorated the magazine with important and timely content, but made it clear that it wasn't a magazine about restaurants or chefs, but about food and the people that are affecting it.
And so it's apropos that as the Thanksgiving-themed final issue hit stands, I learned that I'd be cooking and hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner. While I've combed my stacks (and stacks, and stacks, and stacks...) of food magazines looking for ideas on how to make this Thanksgiving special, I continue to turn to my piles of Gourmet for inspiration. As someone who appreciates the magazine from all facets, whether it be as a magazine professional, a food stylist or an avid reader, I'm making myself a promise to keep Gourmet in mind this Thanksgiving. They have an excellent cookbook that also just hit bookstores and that I'm eager to peruse in person, not to mention the new PBS series, Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth. If you'd like to hear more from Ruth in the aftermath of the magazine folding, NPR had a great interview with her where she discusses food, the magazine and her recent memoir. I really enjoyed hearing her touch on what she would have done had she known the November issue would be not only her last, but the magazine's. Listen to that interview here, and I'll be back posting more recipes and updates on my Thanksgiving meal planning.