A Farewell to (The Magazine of) Good Living

Just last week I sat at my desk filling out a subscription renewal card for Gourmet Magazine, debating the 2 year or 3 year option. Why not take the 3 year discount considering 10 years from now I’ll still be subscribing to and reading this magazine? How wrong I was. Monday morning when I started my usual web surfing session I came across one after another article, blog post, tweet, status update, all announcing that Gourmet magazine was shuttering.

(Heather here, by the way…)

Gourmet has been published since January 1941. My relationship with Gourmet was brief in the grand scheme of those 69 years, but I still found myself tearing up when I read the news in disbelief. For those of you who don’t already know, the only other passion in my life that rivals my relationship to design is food. Cooking, eating, traveling to find it, I dedicate much of my spare time and thoughts to the art of food and for this, my bible has been Gourmet magazine.

I received my subscription as a gift from my mother-in-law just before Brad and I got married and I can still pick the cover of the first issue that arrived out of a line up with no more than a moment’s thought. Come to think of it, I often go back through my library of issues looking for content with my memory of a particular, yet always beautiful cover image as my guide. Since then many recipes from the pages of Gourmet have become star players in the culinary repertoire of the Thomason household. I often curl up at night with the latest issue in bed, traveling in my imagination to taste food from the beautiful and exotic corners of the world that Gourmet takes you to with it’s cultural narratives and glossy full page photography. When Brad and I traveled to Italy this past Spring I dug up 6 different issues I had dog eared articles in for exactly that purpose, hoping that one day I would taste the cooking of Anna Fedele and see the olive groves of Apulia for myself (and we did).

I heard Mark Bittman say in an interview on WNYC yesterday morning that Gourmet’s closing “is a tragedy from an editorial point of view, because it was a place where probably the most serious food journalism was being done on a regular basis.” No one is more of an idol for me than Ruth Reichl, Editor in Chief since 1999. She has been the woman behind the curtain and the voice of the Gourmet I love. I never skip a letter from the editor – always a piece of herself, and a life rich with tastes and experiences I can only dream of, that has gone into the issue in hand.

There is no shortage of tributes to Gourmet online right now. At the moment I’m thinking of my own little collection of issues that sits on a shelf with my cookbook library. I’ll run my finger along the spines lovingly when I go home tonight, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to grasp the reality that there will be no more.