Foodies everywhere felt a disturbance in the force this week. Yes, I speak of the surprise shuttering of Gourmet, the magazine that chronicled all things culinary for nearly seven decades. Upon hearing that Condé Nast had pulled the plug in the most unceremonious of ways, I did the only thing a self-respecting foodie could do: I made myself a chocolate-hazelnut torte and promptly consumed half. What can I say? I was mourning.
Gourmet’s many obits have discussed the reasons for the publisher’s move—declining ad rates, slumping circulation, the changing landscape of luxury lifestyle mags and, of course, the trying economy. There are myriad reasons, but the end of the day you just can’t get around the fact that from a return-on-investment perspective, you get a lot more bang for your buck online. And that leaves me with mixed emotions—kind of like when I’m faced with the choice between a flourless chocolate cake and a chocolate pot de crème.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who worked in online journalism for years, I fully appreciate the immediate nature and community feel of electronic media. But I’m also old school. I got into journalism, many years ago because I loved writing and reading. Newspapers, yes, but especially magazines. There’s something about the feel of them—the pleasure that you get from leafing through a new magazine can be positively transformative. Much like when you unwrap a Baci chocolate.
So Gourmet is gone now and it’s a loss. A loss as sad as a gummy meringue, as a burnt cookie, as a dry, overdone steak.
You’ll notice I left out deflated soufflé—no one, after all, likes over-the-top food analogies.