Is "Gourmet" The Best American Food Magazine?
April 3, 2002 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Is "Gourmet" The Best American Food Magazine? Lookit all the nominations it's got! It's certainly got a lot better since Ruth Reichl started editing it. Reading about its history one gets to know what American foodies were cooking, eating or just drooling over in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s(Let no one pretend, after reading this potted history, that food used to be better in the old days). Still, for my money, the best food magazine in the world, better even than the French Saveurs, is the scrumptious, San Francisco-based upstart Saveur, whose online version has recently become extremely generous. Like most people I rarely try out a recipe - I just read it as virtual gastroporn. In fact, it's the only magazine I actually collect.
posted by MiguelCardoso (34 comments total)
Big fan of Saveur (and, unfortunately, growing bigger every day). Not so much Gourmet.
posted by me3dia at 10:20 AM on April 3, 2002

Emough with the Savanarolan ascestisms already...
posted by y2karl at 10:24 AM on April 3, 2002

My girlfriend works for Bon Appetit Magazine, so my vote goes for them otherwise no sex.

However, interestingly enough, the Conde Nast building ( in Time Square where she works) is currently evacuated after a bomb threat about an hour ago.
posted by remlapm at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2002

Red-faced errata: Where it says "San Francisco-based" please read "New York-based". Though I'm almost sure it started out in SF. The Saveur link keeps pointing to a different article(at least four)so it's worth re-clicking. Also, don't mind the Tums pop-ups on the Gourmet links. They soon disappear.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2002

Gastroporn is right, Miguel. Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, etc. have turned food photography into sheer eroticism.

I've subscribed to all of them over the years, but as the content of the magazines has devolved away from cooking in favor of the slick photography and "features", I've given up. I now only subscribe to the overly-austere Cook's Illustrated and turn to Epicurious to find whatever recipes there are to be had from Gourmet/Bon Appetit
posted by briank at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2002

I like Cook's. It seems more, dunno, realistic. Good recipes, good equipment reviews, usually with practical commentary, like suggesting less-expensive alternatives for those of us who can't afford the very best.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:28 AM on April 3, 2002

Another great one is Gastronomica, which I was turned on to last year. It is more of an academic journal, but I recommend it.
posted by anathema at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2002

Edward Behr's The Art of Eating is sublime but too expensive. He actually lives for a while in the places he writes about, making friends with the local shepherds and bakers, so he knows his stuff. The web site is cool too, though it's unduly mean with the excerpts.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:40 AM on April 3, 2002

I'm with the Cook's Illustrated people on this one. I'm also a big fan of John Thorne's "Simple Cooking" newsletter. Thorne also has a half decent website.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:43 AM on April 3, 2002

Gastroporn...what a great word.

I also like Cook's, especially the product reviews. And I credit them for introducing me to brining...I mean, I had no idea the difference it makes in poultry or pork. I have a chicken brining in the fridge right now for roasting tonight, as a matter of fact.

Also good is Fine Cooking, though I don't think I've ever made a recipe of theirs. It's great reading as they usually go through how they got to the final recipe.
posted by kittyloop at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2002

Wow, I took a break from, kind of the poor man's gastroporn, and look at all the goodies I find. Thank you!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:04 AM on April 3, 2002

Hey, croutonsupafreak, if we're going to include web sites, have you tried From Soup To Nuts? It's terrific, with lots of information for the financially-challenged. I bet it overtakes Chowhound one day. Really good food has very little to do with money; rather fresh ingredients, bought when they're at their best(and therefore cheapest), hard work(specially shopping at the market), time, the proper discriminating attitude and a few shareable secrets. This can't be true only of the Mediterranean!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:32 AM on April 3, 2002

Cook's Illustrated, definitely. I mostly prefer cookbooks, though. My current fav is the just released new edition of "The Professional Pastry Chef". But that's a whole other story.
posted by cakeman at 11:35 AM on April 3, 2002

props out to Cook's - it just has a more "down in the trenches" type of feel to it. I love the multiple takes on any given recipe AND the fact that they are very open about what doesn't work as well. I subscribe the others mentioned, but Cook's is the only one that's given me a barbeque sauce that made my mom ask where I got it from.
posted by crankyrobot at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2002

I quite like Fine Cooking as well. I've found that I'll actually make the recipies I find in their issues. Whereas with Cook's Illustrated I find that while I like their recipies in theory it just doesn't translate into actually cooking things.
posted by machine at 11:55 AM on April 3, 2002

Gotta share my favorite: not only has great, reasonable also has .wav files with sample pronunciations of names of food!
posted by preguicoso at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2002

Talk about forgetting your own back yard... MetaFilter's y6y6y6, of course, has great - and fast - recipes on his weblog.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:19 PM on April 3, 2002

Well, if we're going to extend the topic into food blogs, you have to include The Red Kitchen and Simmer Stock (also a MeFi'er), among many others.
posted by briank at 12:24 PM on April 3, 2002

I second MrMoonPie: Cook's Illustrated is excellent.
posted by sylloge at 12:39 PM on April 3, 2002

American fans of Cook's Illustrated should try to tune in to America's Test Kitchens on PBS, hosted by the editor-in-chief (and presumably staff writers from the magazine) of Cook's Illustrated. They concentrate on one or two recipes an episode, and explain why the recipes work the way they do. The recipe for cream scones is easy and delicious.
posted by crunchland at 12:40 PM on April 3, 2002

Great links, thanks everyone, there are some great indian recipes here, Sanjeev Kapoor
posted by bittennails at 12:45 PM on April 3, 2002

Is this getting specialized or what, briank? It started out about magazines. Then it went onto blogs. Then on to MeFi blogs. So I guess it's now about specific recipes from MeFi blogs. OK. Well, we made rcb's cheeseballs last night and ate the lot. Though we used Swiss Gruyère instead of cream cheese, as we only get the Philadelphia brand here in Portugal. We had them with Aviation cocktails(4 parts gin, 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part Maraschino liqueur, shaken). Top that, Mister Man! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:56 PM on April 3, 2002

Pardon a link to the magazine I edit, but Chile Pepper has a few hundred recipes for the spicy set.
posted by chino at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2002

Um, make that here. Obviously, I don't program the site.
posted by chino at 1:06 PM on April 3, 2002

Did anyone see the HBO film "Dinner With Friends"? The opening sequence, showing Dennis Quaid and Andie Macdowell as food writers/cooks/on the cover of Gourmet was wonderful, I thought. Full of that slick photography and yuppie sensibility, but intriguing all the same.

I am a new vegetarian and know of Vegweb and the Vegetarian Times site; can anyone recommend further gastroporn sites for vegetarians?
posted by sbgrove at 1:09 PM on April 3, 2002

Chino - John Mariani is one of my favourite food writers - and lexicographers. His article on Abruzzo cooking in your magazine is excellent. Thanks. The magazine looks great too - but you can't get it here. :(
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:18 PM on April 3, 2002

I love reading MFK Fisher, The Art of Eating is a favorite.

Recently I am enjoying Nobody's Fool.
posted by mmm at 1:23 PM on April 3, 2002

I like Fuck Corporate Groceries, a simple weblog by a person eschewing corporate grocery stores in favor of small local shops. The recipes are simple and wonderful (many are vegan) , and the writing is fresh.
posted by kickerofelves at 1:39 PM on April 3, 2002

Never got into Saveur. I subscribed to it when it first came out and quickly cancelled my subscription. The mag just seemed more in love with idea of food than food itself. Hmm. I guess that would be the definition of porn, huh?: more about the ideal than the real.

Anyway, along with the rest of the choir I love Cooks Illustrated, even though they can get a little bit anal at times ("I tried one quarter teaspoon of sugar, but the tasters felt the final dish flat. With a half teaspoon the sweetness overpowered everything. A quarter teaspon with 10 extra crystals of sugar was exactly what the cinnamon toast called for"). I also subscribe to Gastronomica, which is the perfect mag for your favorite food nerd. Other than that I don't really read food magazines anymore. It seemed to me that sometime in the early 90's they became more about travel and hot chefs than about making and eating food.
posted by dchase at 2:22 PM on April 3, 2002

I used to pick up COOKING LIGHT at the grocery store, but stopped when it seemed to be more of a magazine for suburban hausfraus ... tips on doing yoga in your SUV, etc... though they do come out with an annual that doesn't have all that froofy Martha Stewart stuff.
posted by crunchland at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2002

ahhh the memories!
My mother had a subscription to Gourmet. We spent many an hour pouring over each and every page of those magazines. I learned to cook by trying out the recipes. The travel articles were always incredible. I still buy them from time to time at the newstands, along with Bon Appetit & Cooking Light.
posted by redhead at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2002

Thanks, Miguel for the link to Edward Behr's The Art of Eating; it looks tasty. But when he writes:

I’ve also learned the wisdom of a Paris friend, who said, noting that French bakeries usually make both pastry and bread, "The quality of pastry in the window is in inverse proportion to the quality of the bread. A good baker is rarely a good pâtissier and vice versa."

I can think of two exceptions to this rule within ten minutes from my home and I don't live in a good food-shopping neighborhood. (There is a lot of porn, just not gastroporn.)

sbgrove: Gastroporn sites for vegetarians? Can such a thing exist?
posted by Dick Paris at 10:11 PM on April 3, 2002

Well, DP, I feel that vegetarian foodies are like sex-positive rabbis -- they acknowledge some higher limit to the pursuit of sensual gratification. Vegetarian gastroporn = sex advice for married couples.

and now I'm off for Chinese. Hooray for those who will cook anything with four legs except a table, and anything that flies except an aeroplane.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:55 PM on April 3, 2002

Cook's Illustrated is a food magazine.

Gourmet is a lifestyle magazine and as far as I can tell, always has been. I'm more interested in cooking and practical stuff related to that vs. endless reviews of hip and trendy restaurants that I could never afford to go to in the first place.
posted by mark13 at 5:44 PM on April 4, 2002

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