12 October, 2009

Timing is a funny thing. I can only throw up my hands and laugh at this unsettling trend in my life -- unfinished projects, untended interests. The whole reason I undertook this Gourmet project was to work on bucking that trend, while doing something I love with the aid of a magazine for which I have an inordinate affection. First month: A success. I was ready for whatever November would throw at me.

Then Conde Nast sucker-punched me and all foodies everywhere with their decision to pull the plug on the finest institution in American food journalism. I felt physically ill when I read the headline, hoping for a few dizzy seconds that it was all a cruel joke, a pretend headline ripped from "The Onion." But no. No, after the end of this month I will have one less of the simple pleasures that connect the dots of my days. Every month I look forward to -- you could very well say that I crave -- the arrival of the next issue, wondering what glorious work of art will grace the cover, what new parts of the world I will learn about through food, what food-related issues and controversies will have been uncovered through excellent journalism. Good food and the enjoyment of it is one of the lenses through which I love to look at the world, and this past year Gourmet has been a wonderful teacher. The prospect of life without it is a gloomy one.

I think it a great shame that quality must suffer in deference to the mighty dollar. I think about this often enough as one who is interested in design, art, museums, etc. Cultural institutions are the first to suffer when funds are tight. I understand that at the end of the day, a magazine is a business, and a business decision must be made. But I'm still not content that things must be this way.

As for cooking, I'll continue, but I'm not sure yet what my new motivational "dare" for myself will be. For now I will enjoy what is here and in no danger of being ripped from me: the faithful arrival of autumn, the very best of the four seasons; the pleasure in making big pots of butternut squash and lentil soup; and the community that can indeed be found, "even in the suburbs."

1 comment:

Peter said...

Two thoughts:

As I read your third paragraph, my first thought (why am I always so critical!?) was "isn't that phrase supposed to be 'the almighty dollar'?" To my great pleasure, a couple of seconds later it occurred to me that your wording was far more appropriate and true. The dollar isn't "all mighty;" it never has been, nor will it ever be. God alone is Almighty. It was a good reminder; thank you! -- and if you intended it as such, you have my double thanks.

Oh, and the second thought was that I suspect many great works of art have been created and much truly beautiful culture has formed in the lean times, perhaps as a way of discovering and expressing the good things that we so easily forget when the money and wine are flowing more freely. Unfortunately, this is simply a suspicion, not a grand, historical truth that I can prove.