Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gourmet RIP

Alas, Gourmet is no more, having succumbed to a dwindling bottom line after 68 years.

As I sat down to write this, I came across the post on www.serveitforth.com bemoaning the loss of Gourmet, and I imagine the entire food blogosphere is or will be abuzz with comments. Nevertheless, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on Gourmet.

I was a subscriber to Gourmet for 35 years. It started when my wife (then fiance) and I were given a one-year subscription at a spice shower in advance of our wedding, and I continued to renew until now, with no lapses. During our multi-year stints in Paris and Tokyo, before the age of the Internet, the monthly arrival of Gourmet was a cherished event and a tie to home. Although we have long since lost touch, I remember very well the woman who gave us that initial subscription. The ultimate gift that kept on giving!
People often complained that the recipes were too difficult, and there is some truth in that. Still, I always used the recipes, and some became standards in my repertoire. But I must admit that for years I found Gourmet's recipes to be a bit complex and as a result I had some notable failures. During the last 10 years or so, I found them to be more user-friendly, but maybe that’s just me.

The really great thing about Gourmet, though, was always its monthly jolt of inspiration and challenge, whether of food to cook or eat, places to go or things to experience. The travel pieces were more than inspiring; if you were going where they had been, you found wonderful restaurants and other sights that the more generic, non-food oriented guides might have missed. I will never forget our perfect lunch more than 30 years ago at a tiny restaurant in the back of a fish store in Antibes near the Picasso Museum. We certainly would not have discovered it on our own and owe that memory entirely to Gourmet.

Other, more recipe-oriented food magazines have a value, and I subscribe to many of them, but Gourmet was special and irreplaceable.

Sad news.

Bobby Jay