I am sure it was the case with many people, but I was shocked to hear of Conte Nast’s decision to halt the publication of Gourmet magazine. Though I’ve only been a subscriber for the past three or four years, I enjoyed the magazine greatly (the only strictly food magazine I get), not only for recipes, but for information about food culture and restaurants (as well as the gorgeous photography). Something about perusing the pages of the publication gave me a comforting pleasure on many Sunday mornings, when the day was up to me and the recipes would inspire culinary adventures.
As my friend Rikki mentioned, Gourmet was as much about the connections people have through food as it was about the food itself. The pages and pages of photos showed happy gatherings of people in a vast array of aesthetics, from sleek and cool to grainy and homespun. Likewise, as much as the magazine inspired me to cook, it also inspired me to share meals with my friends and loved ones, from fancy plated dishes to family-style Sunday dinners. Though a great number of my closest friends are far flung and cannot always make it to dinner on Saturday evening, Gourmet inspired me to call people to the table, to share something we all love (good food), and to share an experience together.
We are relying more and more on electronic communications, which is brilliant for occasions when money and time get in the way of gathering together, but email, instant messaging, and texting all create a barrier between us. There is nothing like seeing and hearing your friend throw their head back in laughter, or watching the face they make when they take the first bite of the apple-cranberry pie your husband just made. You can’t replace those moments with something virtual; they are first-hand, and they are to be cherished.
Meggie always says that one of her favorite things to hear is the phrase, “I’ll make you a plate.” I couldn’t agree more. It is like hearing, “I know you have to go, but I just want to let this evening linger a little longer for you.” In some way, having a plate made for you is like being given a tangible memory. Just as you’ll go home and sit on your couch and enjoy that delicious meal once more, you’ll also savor the memory of the evening thereafter, maybe because of the food, maybe because of something that happened. Just remember that it was the food that brought you there in the first place.
Thanks, Gourmet (and especially Ruth Reichl) for many good years of bringing people together with the excuse of needing to eat something. We made the Ward 8 Cocktail from the pages of your October 1962 issue and found it to be perfect for an autumn evening; proof that you may be out of print, but you’ll continue to inspire.