I won’t say that I’ve always loved Gourmet. In fact, I’m kind of new to appreciating what it has (had) to offer. Four years ago, I actually was not a fan of most of the photography (although I still subscribed). I remember one day, I picked up an issue, and suddenly loved almost every shot in it. As it turns out, that was the issue that featured Australia, and the images were all taken by some of my favorite photographers from down under. But all that changed the day I sat in on a talk given by some of the stylists and photographers at the 1st International Conference on Food Styling and Photography in Boston. These people were delightful and fascinating and I wanted to hear and see more from them. I became an avid Gourmet reader, and every year since, I found that the photography just got better and better (or at least, more and more to my liking). In fact, I almost was getting more excited about my Gourmet arrival than my Donna Hay. My inspiration board is filled with images torn from it’s pages. And photography in the A to Z issue simply killed me. That $3 I saved? I’d give it back tenfold to keep my subscription around now.
Last April, I turned 40, and good friends of mine got me a copy of Gourmet from my birth month. It’s full of very late 60s recipes. And oh, the photography. I want to scream at the photographers, what were you thinking?
[Gourmet from April 1969 with a recipe for Eggs with Peppers and Onions, with my take on the dish today]
But then, I start to wonder if I’ll look back on my recent photos in 40 years and want to scream at myself. Probably. Sometimes, I even want to scream at myself about photos I took 4 months ago. But the recent photos in Gourmet? Maybe I’ll prove myself wrong in the coming decades, but I think they’ll last. At least, those that don’t have a fork shot straight on with some random food bits (or non food bits) stuck in them.
But photography trends aside, the thing about Gourmet is that the stories are great and the recipes are inspiring. I’ve read a lot of poo-pooing about the magazine being too highbrow.. and perhaps, I’m out of touch… but I find every issue has just as many quick and simple dishes as complex and painstaking ones. The magazine has a diversity that many of the newer magazines lack. It’s true that most people won’t eat in the restaurants reviewed in its pages or even cook more than 1% of the recipes at home. But that isn’t about complexity or affluence… how many people actually get off the couch to make the dishes that they see on Food Network? And, I don’t see anyone claiming that it is too high brow for the average home cook. But, regardless, who cares? A magazine’s job is to entice and teach its readers to try, or at least dream about trying, something new. And that’s something Gourmet has always done exceedingly well.
Gourmet, I’ll miss you. And, well, sorry about that $3.