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Artwork in Gourmet, Not looking good enough to eat


Mimi Sheraton
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I've always looked forward to what I call the "quest" articles--travels at the edges of the earth to learn about or find some exotic ingredient. And I enjoy the magazine's emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients. In fact, I find the recipes are generally lighter and more healthy than Cooking Light, with its constant emphasis on low-fat, yogurt-enhanced renditions of cheesecake, brownies, and pound cake. :hmmm:

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I am continually surpised at how much hostility there is for Gourmet here at eGullet...

...Anyone know?

this surprises me too. i mean it's a food magazine. at the news stand. that costs about 5$.

and some people here obviously take great pleasure in dissing it.

i don't get it. :blink:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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I am continually surpised at how much hostility there is for Gourmet here at eGullet...

...Anyone know?

this surprises me too. i mean it's a food magazine. at the news stand. that costs about 5$.

and some people here obviously take great pleasure in dissing it.

i don't get it. :blink:

I diss publications that I get for free! Seriously, it's in the nature of media to create discussion.

You know what food photography I enjoy-- the pictures accompanying some of Jeffrey Steingarten's pieces in Vogue. I don't even like most of the photography in Vogue, but I like those. Who does them? Anyway, they rock, and some of them even make the food look appetizing.

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It does seem contradictary to subscribe and diss, but I have that right, given a long association with the magazine I believe set many modern benchmarks for food journalism, food photography, and food awareness. I guess we apply the "tall poppy" syndrome to all facets of life now, however much revered they have been.

I respect any mag that has prospered as long as Gourmet; they've been doing a lot of things very well for longer than any other food publication.

That being said, I'm now feeling as dissapointed as I did when Wine Spectator became a quasi-food, quasi-cigar publication.

John

"Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos"

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It does seem contradictary to subscribe and diss, but I have that right, given a long association with the magazine I believe set many modern benchmarks for food journalism, food photography, and food awareness.

I feel this way too. My family has been reading Gourmet since the 60's and I grew up reading it. Now there are many other food magazines available but in those days Gourmet was treasure. Gourmet expanded my culinary horizons and gave me an introduction to a gastronomic world that just wasn't available locally. I loved the articles that finished with long arcane recipes for exotic meals - they fed my dreams, even if I never attempted the recipes. Gourmet was my travel magazine, my National Geographic.

Even now, when Gourmet so often disappoints, I hold on to my subscription, remembering its former magic and hoping for a better edition next month.

Cheers,

Anne

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I subscribe to most and dislike most, but I think Gourmet is better than ever. i found the older version incredibly boring and fussy. The new graphics are almost there but not quite and I'm never sure if I'm reading content or ads. But the articles are much more interesting and I think the recipes are better-written. And the WalMart article shows there's some spine there. There was a piss-elegance about the old magazine that made me roll my eyes.

I am not in love with the current cover (although I'd eat the food in heartbeat if served it) but what about the cover before? It represents everything I love about Italy and it captured it without being obvious. I know a wonderful Italian girl who was as beautiful as the girl on the cover and I have so many memories of eating al fresco in the summer with her entrire family much like the photo (although we were in Liguria, not the south).

I'd cut them some slack and write to crap mags like Cooking Light and Bon Ap and ask them to step up to the plate.

Typical Cooking Light feature

5 Ways to Lose the Pounds

1. take time for you! Indulge in a spa bath at home

2. Drink lots of h20- it's super good for you!

3. Eat Veggies- they are good.

4. Take a long walk- it's fun and healthy!

5. Avoid fattening food- it's really bad!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I haven't looked at the June issue yet, but on the whole I think the photography in Gourmet has gotten better. Just yesterday I looked at serveral issues of the magazine from the mid-70s and the magazine is a mess. The recipes were not easy to read - no ingredient lists anywhere. And the photos were all dark.

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I also wonder if it's popular outside of our rarified circle and whether circulation has grown over the last few years. Anyone know?

I was researching a cookbook article and looked up the circulation stats--

Gourmet 975,216

Food & Wine 943,710

Cooking Light 1,661,386

I was surprised :)

Julie the Librarian

source: Bacon's Magazine Directory 2005

Edited by julski (log)
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Click here for a general discussion of whether Gourmet is going up- or downhill, starting when, and why.

As for cover photos, my personal "What Were They Thinking?!?" favorite was the wacky air-guitar snap of Eric Ripert, Dean Fearing, and a bunch of people who should know better waving whisks and pans around like they were Axl Rose's love children. Never seen it? Get a strong drink and clickety click. Thank you, Ben Fong-Torres!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As for cover photos, my personal "What Were They Thinking?!?" favorite was the wacky air-guitar snap of Eric Ripert, Dean Fearing, and a bunch of people who should know better waving whisks and pans around like they were Axl Rose's love children.

That's hilarious! :biggrin:

There is no sincerer love than the love of food. -- George Bernard Shaw
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I also wonder if it's popular outside of our rarified circle and whether circulation has grown over the last few years. Anyone know?

I was researching a cookbook article and looked up the circulation stats--

Gourmet 975,216

Food & Wine 943,710

Cooking Light 1,661,386

I was surprised :)

Julie the Librarian

source: Bacon's Magazine Directory 2005

Interesting info.

I was wondering what Saveur's circulation was and found this info from 2003: (link)

Saveur 381,000

Bon Appetit 1,300,000

Wine Spectator 346,781

Vegetarian Times 242,774

Fine Cooking 221,108

(numbers for Gourmet, Cooking Light, etc are similar to those from 2005 above)

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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OK, so it's not just me, huh?

As a subscriber who was "hooked" by the incredibly sexy cover of the June 2003 issue (deep silky shades of purple, depicting blackberries and blackberry sauce draped over vanilla ice cream a woman would go to jail for), I hafta say... those newer covers feel kinda like the b&w photos from 1930s cookery books. Stark, stark, stark.

I know we're supposed to be hip and minimalist and all, but this just looks like PUNISHMENT. No lushness, no lustiness. No bounty.

It's the difference between panning Nigella Lawson's lush & enviably ample silhouette, and close-up shots of Sandra Lee's scrawny hands and saggy, baggy cleavage in her concave chest. :laugh:

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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  • 2 weeks later...

Perhaps there are some foods that - like some people - don't photograph as well as others. And maybe steak is one of them. I'm not a big steak fan - but this looked like a pretty good steak to me. Had there been juice all over the plate - I'm sure someone would have accused the chef of not letting it rest properly before plating it. Can anyone come up with a picture of a grilled steak that looks fabulous?

For what it's worth - I have a subscription to Gourmet (one of the few magazines that I'm actually willing to spend money on) - and I think a lot of the articles these days are pretty interesting (like the one in the current issue about Walmart). I also like the fact that all of the restaurant write-ups aren't 100% positive (they're probably more positive than they should be - but at least it's a step in the right direction - i.e., editorial honesty).

I also have to confess that I've been a big Ruth Reichl fan since she wrote her review of Le Cirque 2000 :wub: . Robyn

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This one trumps the bizarre Thanksgiving turkey photo (looked like either a charred skull or face of an evil creature) from Bon Appetit a few years ago as the least appetizing photo ever on a food magazine cover.

The turkey you're talking about, the one that looked like the devil's face, was actually on the cover of Gourmet a couple of years ago, or maybe it was last year. Definitely not Bon App.

But back to the topic under discussion, I guess I'm in in the minority because I really like the photography in the new Gourmet. Altjhough I agree that steak picture in June was not one of the better covers.

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I'm not very hungry having had some nice lamb loin, chanterelles and tomatoes stuffed with ratatouille and ground lamb for dinner, but I could eat everything I see photographed in the July 2005 issue of Martha Stewart LIVING. Those images bring new depth to the meaning of "looks good enough to eat."

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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So true! That latest issue of MSL is really something! That fruit and herbs section is incredible, especially the shot of the fig, feta and mint salad

Down deep inside my heart belongs to Gourmet (I have enough back issues in my basement to build a garden shed) but those Martha Stewart pictures are glorious. And despite past problems, her recipes really work.

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those Martha Stewart pictures are glorious. And despite past problems, her recipes really work.

MSL raised the visual bar for any food/lifestyle mag around from Gourmet to House and Garden let alone the direct stylistic knockoffs like Real Simple and Oprah's mag. If she had achieved nothing else in life, Martha Stewart made publishers pull up their socks and do better --as she did for her devoted readers, me among them.

And yes, her recipes work.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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The cover photo of a charred, thick porterhouse reminds me of Father's day at my Dad's, 20 years ago. Mom handed him some thick pork chops, a bottle of Kraft bbq sauce, and warned Dad to wait until the coals were completely white. While waiting he had two or three drinks, marinated the chops, and decided to go ahead and grill them, over red hot charcoal. They flared and charred recklessly, and we stood by helplessly, not even knowing enough to spray with water. In a matter of minutes, we took the platter of blackened, grill marked, but rare chops into the dining room. We picked away at them, but the chops really were spoiled.

Just like the wonderful steak on the cover of Gourmet.

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Actually the steak didn't look all that bad (well, maybe a bit dry). It's everything else that looked lousy. That sauce looks like baby puke. Sorry to be so graphic, but it does. And with all the great opportunities for outdoor photography in the summer, you gotta question why they took a shot like that in studio.

Edited by Lesley C (log)
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Having the magazine in front of me, I really don't get the criticism leveled here about this specific cover. Certainly it is not the most beautiful, appetizing or delectable cover to ever grace this or any other food magazine. But it is nowhere near the worst either. I can't say that the background or the plate were particularly inspired or noteworthy, but I think the steak itself and the veggies are indeed appetizing. The steak is certainly not burnt. It has well-defined grill marks and is perfectly medium rare. It almost looks as if it were cooked sous vide and finished on the grill. The white feta sauce on the white plate may be the biggest problem visually, although I bet it is rather tasty with the veggies.

One of my favorite covers is the one of Michel Richard from October 2004 - a master at work.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Interesting comparison with the July 2005 issue of Bon Appetit - The Barbecue Issue. This also features a grilled steak on the cover. While the Bon Appetit is a more interesting photo, the Gourmet steak looks much more real and appetizing to me.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I received the gourmet cookbook for christmas, that Best of Gourmet 2005. For a cookbook, it's a damn fine doorstop. The cheesiest thing was the "Gourmet" apron that came with it---it isn't material, it's that stuff like the throwaway gowns at the doctor's office, except in red. It came from my 14 year old niece, so my official position is it's one of the best gifts ever. And I mean that.

I don't know, but in the last couple of years, I find Gourmet mags ending up on a pile that doesn't get read till I run out of fresh cereal boxes. I once devoured them; maybe it's me that's changed.

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