16 October, 2009


With more than a little impatience I've been watching the mailbox the last two weeks.  Well, watching isn't quite the right term since I'm at work when our mailman comes.  But the second my feet hit the ground out of the car I have a single vision.  Sadly, it is not to kiss my girls hello or pet the pooches.  Nope, I'm looking out for my last issue of Gourmet. Sigh. The last issue.

My Gourmet love started 15 years ago as an undergrad.  I started buying the magazine from The Daily Grind in Halifax on my way home from the farmers' market. It was perfect for my busy life - I could read it in snippets and it transported me from the real daily grind of life as a working student.

Since those days I've been a faithful subscriber - even when we were stone cold broke it was my one luxury.  I do indeed cook regularly from it.  Last year in a fit of purging I only now regret I shared my magazines with a worthy recipient, dear Julie. I kept some memorable issues and I will be hanging on to the two years worth that I still have. And now it is gone. At least Julie is promising to open a lending library out of her basement.  (Let me know if you need her address.) I still haven't stopped sighing.

I've also found myself defending the magazine to many. To the people who criticized the magazine as snobby, elitist, and catering to people with big gobs of time and money to cook and travel I say BAH!  Don't get me wrong, it did have some pretty fantastical stuff.  But it also had everyday recipes that included things like canned beans and frozen pizza dough.  In The Kitchen Notebook section it broke down ingredients and techniques, making them quite manageable for the home cook.  In the past few years Jane and Michael Stern's pieces were getting more and more play.  And finally, I loved, absolutely loved the Politics of the Plate pieces.  

Reading a magazine for me isn't about giving me 20 new ideas for a fast dinner. If I want that I can browse on-line or go to my mom's old Canadian Livings.  But sitting down with a beer or a cup of tea, or flipping through the pages on a road trip were part escape and part inspiration. I may not make my own demi glace (I know people who do) but maybe I'll tackle beef stock again. Reading a magazine was my own little vacation.

I would be hard pressed to find a single recipe that I could say is a favourite from the magazine, but there are certainly some memorable ones - the chicken cashew chili is a favourite of Hubby's. And I've been making braised swiss chard with feta and currants a lot.  On the list for the next dinner party is the apple pie with cheddar crust.  

One of the most formative recipes from the magazine is one I've only made once.  And that was a long, long time ago.  I'm picking this one to share because the first time I had it was at the house of the only person I know personally to have ever been published in the magazine. Friends of mine from journalism school lived in the same city as we did for a few years.  They had two adorable little boys that Hubby and I would frequently babysit.  They were writers and I adored them.  Valerie wrote a little piece about a fantastic bakery in Edmonton and Ruth Reichl published it.  I don't think we celebrated with this cake, but in my memory I am toasting both Valerie and Gourmet with it.

(PS  A Mingling of Tastes is gathering Gourmet obituaries and musings.  Check them out!)


Aimée said...

A beautiful tribute.

Unknown said...

Oh how I am sighing right along with you....I will miss Gourmet too :(

Anonymous said...

I will so miss the annual cookie issue. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

What's up with all my favorites disappearing?

I LOVE lime curd in a pate sucre crust with fresh blueberries!

Chef Gwen said...

I think you just summed up how I feel about losing Gourmet, too. While I've never cooked a thing from the magazine, reading the magazine was my respite from all the cooking and writing that I do. Like you said, "a vacation." Great post. Thanks!

Julie said...

This is still so hard to believe, but I think it had more to do with the business/management end of things. How could a magazine with such a strong brand and over a million subscribers possibly go under?

And honestly, you can have them back! I still have one crate full. Speaking of.. I have to return your crate!

Cheryl Sternman Rule said...

I love coconut cake but never would have paired it with lime curd, though it, of course, makes perfect sense. This is exactly why Gourmet was so valuable.

Now I'm sighing, too.

colleen/foodietots said...

I also purged old issues I'd saved for years a while back, and am kicking myself now. I once had several covers framed as art in my living room. Also gone. Sigh.

Charmian @ Christie's Corner said...

The cake sound divine. It's sad that such a great magazine is gone.

Love the idea of apple pie with cheddar crust.

We all need inspiration. Too bad they didn't realize that Gourmet was more than a recipe magazine.

Isabelle said...

This is great Cheryl. I feel exactly the same way. I too was waiting with bated breath for my last Gourmet to arrive, and it finally did yesterday. Now I look forward to slowly perusing it and squeezing out every last bit of Gourmet goodness. I has less than a year of enjoying Gourmet before it ended. Maybe I can look up back issues in the library!

I also love the image of you buying it at the Daily Grind! That's a great place.