While I know there are more pressing things to worry about in the current economic shitshow, one of the ones that keeps me up at night is the possible (probable?) demise of cooking magazines. I mean, I love the internet as much--if not more--than anyone, but there's something about a cooking magazine that makes its presence, as a complete thing you can purchase, have delivered, hold in your hand and cart around with you, special. While I have New York Times piling up in my entryway--nothing in there that isn't just as well on the web (except the crossword)--I eagerly await the arrival of my cooking magazines. In proof: earlier this month I was, probably inordinately, angry with myself because I thought I had drunkenly discovered and subsequently lost my newest issue of Bon Appetit. Turns out that was just a bad dream, and it arrived safe and sound a week later. Phew!
I mean, sure, you can get all the recipes you want on epicurious.com and other, less trustworthy sites (I don't care how Mary from Montana makes chicken, bigoven.com), and, sure, you can even print them out for that real world effect, but there's nothing like a couple of pages of Gourmet stuck together with tomato sauce to let you know that, if you can manage to pry the pages apart, there's a good recipe waiting for you on one of those pages. And, of course, who can ignore the joys of editorial food photography spreads: pies on chairs in the middle of a field or a pork loin inexplicably balanced on a porch railing. Sure the pictures might be online, but somehow, it's just not the same.
When I'm home, I love going through my mother's collection of these magazines from the eighties--if only for the abundance of ads for cigarettes (shocking!) and booze, and all the big hair. But I also like to see what she dogeared: Did she really intend to make that ridiculous cheese ball? Or was she just marking it to show to dad later for a laugh? More philosophically, they provide a more immediate and detailed account of what foods we ate and how--the minutiae of which is something that cookbooks cannot capture in the same way.
So please, oh captains of industry, though I know print media is allegedly going the way of the telegraph, dodo bird and marrying someone from your town, please keep cooking magazines alive--if only for future generations' amusement in our current cultural obsession with all things edible--and so they can laugh and ask themselves if we ever really made a tongue steak for valentines day.