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.

20 thoughts on “Gourmet

  1. Sad. Going to miss the magazine. It seemed like the only one that covered a huge breadth of both skill and cuisine type, and unashamedly printed recipes more complex than most people would try.

    In an age of dumbing down everything to the lowest common denominator, I am going to miss the magazine.

  2. Wow, Gourmet from the old days looks like my mom’s late seventies copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. So, I guess Gourmet was actually pretty up-and-coming. What a great birthday gift idea. The photos were probably my favorite part of the magazine. I used to buy and keep the December cookie issue every year. I will certainly miss that issue, and I wish they could have finished the calendar year. The cookie that I made from Gourmet was usually the most popular.

  3. I also have to admit that I have been a “late bloomer” when it came to appreciating Gourmet, but the editorials of the last couple of years have been so amazing… The Sicilian stories with all the Fellini in them… it will surely be missed and as many, I hope someone has the guts to pick up the pieces and make it come back in some other form but with the same essence and spirit. Beautiful gift your friends got you. Thanks for sharing this Lara!

  4. I too will miss Gourmet. One of our wedding gifts, which I still have, is the Gourmet Cookbook. (We were married in 1954, and their bread recipe is my basis of departure for bread baking.)

    I’ve loved the stories and the photographs probably even more than the recipes, but I’ve loved those too. Even as I have become older and have eaten less, the vicarious cooking and eating experiences have become more important and more enjoyable. I guess I will just have to get my vicarious experiences from the blogs of my friends and neighbors.

  5. Aren’t those old issues funny? I remember reading Gourmet when I was in JHS and high school and it was old fashioned and fuddy duddy. But I did love the modern magazine. Will miss it dearly.

  6. I’m going to miss Gourmet, too. I don’t think they were too high brow. Do we see Conde Nast ditching Vogue? Thanks for posting those pictures from 1969 (my birth year as well). How horrendous. Not at all what I expected to see from that decade. I thought they were way more into things looking perfect back then. The eggs with the fork are so unappetizing.
    Now your photos, on the other hand, are smashing.

    1. Darina – my point on every one has their own idea of what makes a good photo I guess! The photos with the cast iron skillet are mine… the ones that show that they are in the magazine are the old ones.

  7. Do you by chance have that egg with peppers and onions recipe? I searched the Gourmet site but the archives seem to have disappeared already! I’m drooling over it!



  8. It’s always fun to look back on really old issues of cooking mags… That photography issue you talk about is the same in almost every magazine I have that is older then 10 years…! Gourmet is not a magazine widely available here, so I won’t really miss it, but it’s always sad to see a loved magazine go..

  9. Hi
    I really hope that your $3 weren’t the motivation for Gourmet closure? 🙂
    I fell in love too late with Gourmet. I got the opportunity to discover it just this year and I was ready to subscribe when…it closed.

    I love Gourmet’s photo, so different from the typical Italian (where I live) food magazine. I loved the contents and the ability to let me known new places, foods and stories. Despite I like magazines full of recipes, Gourmet was something special even for me.

  10. For me it’s more or less the same: recently I noticed I was much more inspired by Gourmet then DH, and then, suddenly, Gourmet dissapeared, and it’s really a great lost. Ofcourse, 40 years ago food photography wasn’t what it is now but I think there is really nothing or no one to blame for that (I had the same reaction when a friend brought me a La cucina italiana issue from the early fifties, I mean it’s obvious that no one had any clue about what ‘food styling’ would have become later, but, hey, it’s cute too 🙂 ps: if you find out some way to tell the condenast people that I (as gourmet subscriber, I guess others have the same problem ) don’t want to receive Bon Appetit instead (I mean: that’s not what I paid for isn’t it??!), let me know, it’s a really really arrogant policy, and verrrrry client unfriendly too, so…

  11. I recently re-discoverd gourmet as well. Maybe it was the visual graphics, I hadn’t thought about why the appeal had risen.

    I am curious if you find that Bon App photography has taken a bad turn over the last 6 months? Everything is shadowy and strangely styled. Does not make me want to try out recipes.

  12. i won’t hold it against you – the whole you-causing-the-demise-of-gourmet-thing. i agree w/ kirsten about BA’s photography… it’s gone a bit downhill along w/ the writing and content. people read gourmet to be inspired – they stretched me. the food network just doesn’t stretch me and so i feel a big loss with the end of gourmet. i just feel like there’s not much left for the cook who doesn’t just love the type of food rachel ray cooks. maybe it’s just me? anyway, i forgive you. and i love your idea of cooking something from an old issue – i’ve been wanting to do that w/ some recipes from a world war 2 issue of better homes and gardens i found!

  13. Sigrid: Go to the Gourmet website. They have a phone number to call about your subscription. I somehow overpaid mine until 12/11. They were very nice and let me subscribe to Self magazine when I explained how unsatisfied I have always been with Bon Apetit. They told me I could have a full refund if I wanted to instead.

    I was so sad when it was announced that Gourmet was dead. I’ve been subcribing for 18 years and I actually cook their recipes on a regular basis. I felt like the recipes really taught me how to cook!

    L., you are too funny! If your little scam could have caused Gourmet’s demise, then the fact that I have figured out how to get Sunset for between $14 and $16 dollars every year since 1985 should have killed them dead years ago 😀

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