The news of Gourmet's demise has left me feeling pretty blue.
While the death of this iconic magazine can't be blamed entirely on the Internet--certainly there were other factors at play, including low circulation and claims that Gourmet was out of touch with the average American cook--it cannot have helped. Without a doubt, the Internet has changed the face of journalism. Although the Web is great for leveling the publishing field--without blogs, The Hungry Dog would be a series of never-seen journal entries--leveling the field isn't always the best thing. As Christopher Kimball, publisher of Cook's Illustrated, noted in this op-ed piece last week, doesn't the world need fewer opinions and more thoughtful expertise? This goes for all kinds of journalism, not just food writing. Do you really want your news from any moron who can set up a blogger account?
There's been a little backlash to Kimball's piece; some food bloggers are feeling defensive. I guess my take on the whole thing is that I'd like there to be room and audience for both the old guard and the new guard. I'd like to pick and choose my information from any number of sources, including tried-and-true standbys like Gourmet as well as some of the incredible food blogs out there, whose numbers are growing by the day.
Mostly, I feel concerned about what I see as a diminishing interest in in-depth reporting, which really is what made Gourmet not just a collection of seasonal recipes, but a series of well-researched and often excellent articles about food, politics, travel, and culture. While equalizing opportunity can provide a much-needed forum for those of us just learning how to be creative, it's sad to think that people are losing an interest in journalism with well-earned chops. I mean, how do you know that my recipe for flank steak with bok choy is any good? Most of you reading this have never met me. I could be a terrible cook and a compulsive liar. But you can assume that Gourmet's recipe would be pretty solid.
Anyway, feeling sad and hungry, I decided to make Gourmet's spiced applesauce cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. The cake smells like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all wrapped into one.
I served it to our friends Amy and Johann who came over for dinner on saturday. We morosely discussed the changing face of publishing while inhaling this moist, fragrant cake. Amidst the rueful sighs were furtive scrapings of forks on plates.
In case you were wondering what goes with a rich, appley cake full of brown sugar, vanilla, cloves, and ginger, the answer is dulce de leche ice cream. I suppose it's gilding the lily, what with the layer of cinnamon cream cheese frosting spread thickly over the top of the cake already, but dark times call for drastic measures. I suggest you make this cake. But don't trust me--trust Gourmet.