On food magazines…


A thought that has been bouncing around my head has been on the subject of food magazines. I admit that I love the idea of them. Some are excellent. Some have ‘opportunities’. But after going through one recently, I reminded myself that there isn’t a perfect food magazine.

I’ll admit there are plenty out there that are very good. Food & Wine leaps to mind. Saveur is also excellent. Cook’s Illustrated is outstanding for information. And with the demise of Gourmet, our world of food writing becomes a bit darker. But none of these magazines are perfect.

One of my favorites, though, was Chow. But to my disappointment, the magazine stopped printing and moved to a web presence exclusively. Chow was the closest to my views and perspectives on the world of food. RIP Chow. Ultimately, I’m a sucker for food mags and grab them at the ready on impulse. And given the number of magazines in the market, it seems that publishers think that there is a niche worth filling too.

Why is it that there isn’t one that completely gets it? (Although to be fair, there isn’t really a perfect magazine for any industry, I just wish there was one for food). Some magazines hit it too heavy with recipes that aren’t realistic or empowering. Some have very poor levels of editing and photography (I really want to out the one mag that inspired this post, but I’m taking the high road, but trust me, they sucked). Others just don’t really get it. The world of food and wine is deep and organic. It moves naturally with a skittish flow. Trends come and go. The ultimate point for any great magazine is to tell a story that can inspire. A lot of today’s current magazines aim for this but don’t always hit the bullseye.

What my expectations are for the perfect food magazine is this; great writing, interesting recipes, innovative ideas, a good mix of irreverence, and all of it wrapped into one beautifully designed package that screams to be read. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

I suppose that in today’s gloomy print publishing world, the thought of a perfect food magazine is fleeting. I may be alone as this recent article by the LA Times Russ Parsons points out; magazines are becoming more niche and focused in their goals. Which is fine, but within those defined goals, I still want the right mix that speaks to me. In the end, I have hopes for that ideal mag and will continue to read and dip my toe into what the newsstand has in store for me.

2 thoughts on “On food magazines…

  1. Ugh, I completely agree with you. Even though I’m going to miss Gourmet, it was far from perfect. In fact, I found it a little too heavy on the food porn and not heavy enough on relevant articles. Also, it’s recipes got less and less realistic as the magazine went on it seemed.

    I do like Taste of Home, but it tends to rely too heavily on canned and processed foods and is too home-maker-y for me (not to mention the outrageous price). All I want is a food magazine that combines down home American cooking with the slightly more refined tastes of rustic European cooking. Is that so much to ask for? Apparently, yes. *sigh* Ah well. Someday, someday…

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