Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gourmet Magazine 1940-2009


Last week I received some very bad news about a dear old friend, and since that moment I've been unable to eat, pry myself from bed for neither work nor social obligation, or perform any rudimentary grooming ritual short of an occasional tooth brushing, lest I set a new world record for halitosis.

Gourmet Magazine--after 70 years--is closing.

Excuse me for a moment while I sob uncontrollably.
Again.

First my beloved Starbucks Iced Coffee's were wrested from me, now Gourmet Magazine is being snatched away my from my ask-for-so-little life as well. What's next? Will I wake up tomorrow morning to learn that they've stopped breeding French Bulldogs? That prohibition is back? That my yogi (-slash-rockstar), Pat, has packed up and moved to Tibet? That red hair dye causes cancer?

I'm beginning to feel like Rodney Dangerfield.

For those of you reading this who didn't subscribe to Gourmet for the last twenty freaking years--who didn't anxiously wait for the mailman to deliver each months issue like a six year old listening from bed for the jingle of Santa's sleigh on December 24th; who didn't let it sit on your counter for a few days, salivating over the beauty of the cover, building up a literary thirst, before finally opening it up and drinking in all it's delicious nectar--all I can say is, good for you. Good for you, you brilliant person for not spending twenty years of your life falling head over heels in love with the writing, the recipes, the photography, only to learn on a chilly October day that...

it's folding.






Because there were not enough advertising dollars.




Yes, the nation's oldest food magazine--a magazine that made it through the Great Depression, World War II, and the ups and downs of the last seventy, finicky, fussy years--is closing because it's not clogged up with ridiculous advertisements that no one reads anyway.

Well, screw advertising dollars, and screw you Starbucks Condé Nast for taking away Gourmet and leaving us with that insipid Bon Apetit, and snorefest that is Food and Wine. If I want to read a magazine that is all ads, I will pick up a copy of Vogue. No, Starbucks Condé Nast--I wanted a sophisticated magazine that didn't appeal to the masses like that doltish idiotic unremarkable Rachael Ray, but instead carried me away to truly interesting destinations, and introduced me to the people who live there, and the foods they enjoy, both simple and exotic. I wanted a magazine that unlike network television with it's seemingly endless stream of mindless reality shows, understood that some of America is still sophisticated, still wonders where they can find great Kogi BBQ on the streets of L.A., still wants to know how to throw together kimchi quesadillas like they've been making them their entire life, still wants to impress dinner guests with a triple orgasmic chocolate dessert made from scratch with their own two hands instead of carried home in a plain, white cardboard box. But you, Condé Nasty--like Starbucks--sadly don't care about your faithful customer, but rather look only at that freaking bottom line. And unfortunately, because this is the United States and you are a big corporation, the bottom line means that that beautiful photography I savored each and every month like I was eating my last meal on earth at the French Laundry, and Thomas Keller himself was spoon feeding it to me, will now be replaced with ads for Prego Spaghetti Sauce, and Progresso Soups.

Sad.

Sad.

More Sad.

Shame on you for not rising above your spreadsheets, for not seeing the value of your rich history, for choosing mediocrity over magnificence.

I am down, but not beaten. Tomorrow I will drag myself out of this bed, and I will shower. I will shave my Yeti legs, wash my tangled knot of hair, and gargle for ten minutes with an industrial strength mouthwash. And when I resemble a human again, I will head into the kitchen with a big thick stack from my collection of Gourmet magazines, and I will begin to cook a wonderful lunch for myself. Since there are still a few decent tomatoes left at the farmers market, I think I will make a big pot of Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Wafers to start off, followed by sublime Chicken Crepes with Asparagus and Mushrooms, which may take more time than a 30 minute meal, but are well worth the extra effort. And finally, since this will be a good, old-fashioned meal, what better way to end it, than with an old-fashioned dessert--chocolate brownies.

Of course it goes without saying that I will savor every slice, every dice, every chop, every stir, every taste, every sip, every slurp, every bite, every moment of my afternoon in the kitchen. For that is what cooking is all about. It's not about a mad rush to get a meal finished in 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or less. If you cook like that, you get to the destination my friends, but you never truly enjoy the journey.

And that is what I will miss most when my beloved magazine closes next month.

Thanks for a wonderful journey, Gourmet. The trip was great, but the scenery was even better.

Double Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Gourmet | December 2002

Active time: 10 min Start to finish: 45 min

Yield: Makes 32 brownies
Active Time: 10 min
Total Time: 45 min

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
5 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon instant-espresso powder or instant-coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of foil to hang over ends of pan, and grease foil well (except overhang) with 1 tablespoon butter.

Melt remaining 11 tablespoons butter with unsweetened chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt (mixture will be grainy), then add eggs 1 at a time, whisking after each addition until batter is smooth.

Toss together flour and chocolate chips in another bowl and add to batter, stirring until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until top is firm and edges just begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes (do not overbake).

Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then carefully lift brownies from pan by grasping both ends of foil and transfer to rack to cool 10 minutes more. Cut into 32 squares and lift brownies off foil with a spatula.

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