True stories with a twist!

It was almost the Thanksgiving of 2009 when I heard the astounding news that Conde Nast planned to eliminate the publication of Gourmet Magazine. I was shocked. A snap of corporate fingers and it’s gone?

Please, Conde Nast, put Gourmet on the endangered list before sentencing it to final extinction.

I have so many memories. The first recipe I tried, from the April 1964 issue, was “Dill Bread Hoffman”. That recipe brought a raging battle to the “Letters” page a few months after the recipe was published.

“How dare those Hoffmans steal my recipe and then name it after themselves? I submitted that recipe first.” The pride in family recipes was very serious to the original Dill Bread bakers. Their published temper tantrum added a County Fair quality to the magazine.

My memory went back to the time of a pre-Thanksgiving day. My second grade son came home from school in tears. He forgot to tell me the class assignment : “Ask your mother to prepare a typical pilgrim dinner tonight.”

“Everyone told the class what they had for dinner. All the kids said stuff like corn, turkey, squash, pumpkin and carrots. When it was my turn I said, ‘Szechwan Beef with Chinese Mushrooms. Everyone laughed at me.’”

Gourmet had featured recipes from China the month before and I couldn’t wait to try them, Thanksgiving or not.

Every month when my Gourmet Magazine was delivered I enjoyed a reprieve from humdrum ordinary to the new and exotic. It connected me with famous, sophisticated chefs divulging coveted recipes.

And the magazine was responsive to their subscribers. Once I wrote to the editors asking if they could get a recipe from Sante Ristorante, a restaurant we discovered on vacation in La Jolla, California. Several months later the mail arrived containing the recipe for “Papardelle with Fennel Sauce” from Sante Ristorante. I was thrilled. How kind the editors were to research and respond to me!

But now Gourmet was being forced out of my life forever.

Is it possible to mourn a publication?

I did.

I felt the need for comfort, a way to connect with a past Gourmet experience. I found Sante Ristorante’s business card and dialed their number. Rather than a greeting from the restaurant I heard a computerized voice announcing that the number had been permanently disconnected. They’re gone too.

As I sorrowfully looked through the last issue ever to be published, November 2009, “A Day That Will Live in Culinary Infamy,” those annoying little postcards offering new subscriptions kept falling out from between the pages. They were annoying before but now they were infuriating.

“I’ll show Conde Nast what I think of their company’s policy!” Searching through all the Gourmet Magazines stored on my kitchen shelves, I gathered every single postcard and mailed them back to Conde Nast. They’d have to pay postage for all of those cards. I’ll get even with them: I’ll show them what they get for destroying my favorite magazine. I hope the postage due on all those postcards causes them to declare Chapter 11.

Now I sit and wonder what Julia Child would do if she were still around?


  1. I just resubscribed to Bon Appetite. Now I’m dangerous 😉

  2. Alice said:

    Subscription postcards–oh, that is hilarious!

  3. Margie said:

    I chuckled at your Thanksgiving story! One year my newly launched on the world daughter decided to follow Martha Stewart’s perfect Thanksgiving feast recipes. She phoned me from her distant home to tell me about the interesting ingredients in one of the recipes. The amounts seemed huge. I asked her how many people she was feeding. She said – four, then paused a moment and said – oops. Martha’s feast was for twenty people.

    “I’d better cut these recipes back before I start shopping,” she laughed!

  4. Wow, after reading all about your cooking, Ronnie, I need to add flavour into my menus…it’s always the same old tried-and-tested recipes.. 😦

  5. I never really read Gourmet Magazine. I admired the pictures when I leafed through the magazine, but the exotic dishes combined with more sophisticated cooking techniques seemed beyond my culinary skills.

    I subscribe to Everyday Food magazine – definitely not Gourmet, but it’s more at my skill and patience level. I get excited when I see it in the mailbox each month and enjoy selecting new recipes to try, so I can understand your feeling of loss.

    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m sure it will be delicious no matter where you get your recipes.

  6. Absolutely possible to mourn the loss of a magazine…I’ve mourned several too Ronnie. Seems to me that the loss of a magazine we marked time and season by drives home a sort of painful lesson….time is forever irretrievably passing away. (But you showed ’em! 🙂 )

  7. Judy Berman said:

    You’re right, Ronnie. Magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appetite seduced you with those mouth-watering photos. The recipes … to die for. I feel your pain.

  8. I need someone to put the idea into my head, tell me how to prepare it, and then prepare it for me.

  9. I think you need to be prepared for the disappearance of all magazines in the not too distant future. All we’ll have are the free supermarket giveaways at the till. Sad.

    • Roger,I fear that you are right. My husband,a koi collector, just found out that his prized magazine from England, KOI, has ceased publication. It isn’t only the fact that they stop publishing as it is the suddenness with which it’s done.

  10. I was always more of a bon appetite fan myself but did get Gourmet now and then. Now it seems I rarely consult a cookbook, relying more on the internet. Nice post! See you Friday!

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