I love cookbooks. I have a carefully crafted library of them, and I have to constantly resist the urge to buy one more. Even foregoing beef, lamb and pork as I do, and eschewing the regular preparation of desserts and complicated breads at home, I doubt I’ll ever be able to cook my way through every recipe in every cookbook that I own at this moment. The truth is that I don’t need another cookbook, but I’ll keep buying them because I like to leaf through them as if they were coffee table art books and imagine the glorious food that I’ll make. Of course, my love for cookbooks probably extends from my love for all books, which I am also constantly acquiring beyond my ability to consume.
I cannot say that I have a similar love for cooking magazines. Beyond Cook’s Illustrated, no cooking magazine has satisfied me. The recipes are not generally compelling. The articles are not generally enlightening. No recipe in a cooking magazine has ever measured up to the majority of the recipes I have made out of my cookbooks.
I thought Gourmet might be different. Gourmet is a beautiful magazine. If you can assign something the title of “food porn,” Gourmet would be that thing. I enjoyed editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl’s book and had high hopes for the magazine’s editorial content and recipes produced under her direction.
I have been getting Gourmet for five months now. I have made several recipes, mostly out of the “Gourmet Everyday” section, which are supposedly gourmet-level recipes for the busy home cook, which is what I am. I have yet to find a recipe that makes me say, “Wow! Clip me! Share me! Make me again!” Every recipe I have tried has been disappointing. Last night was the final straw. I was cooking dinner for my brother and me and decided to try the Red Lentil Curry, which seemed both righteously healthy and delicious (I’m a sucker for recipes containing coconut milk). But it turned out bland and mushy and not at all appealing on the plate. My brother and I agreed that the basic flaw was the recipe, which skimps quite a bit on both obvious ploys to enhance flavor (why not sauté the zucchini with the onion instead of just throwing it into the liquid?) and interesting ingredients.
That was the final straw. I’ve given Gourmet a fair shake, but I’m giving up. In the three years I have been getting Cook’s Illustrated, I have had several religious experiences as a result of recipes made out of the magazine. The Macaroni & Cheese alone is worth the price of admission. Gourmet hasn’t come even close to that level. I’ll continue to look at Gourmet for the pictures and travel articles until my subscription runs out, but I doubt I’ll renew.
I’m now searching for a new cooking magazine. I figure a monthly magazine that only costs $15 or so a year is the best hope I have for slaking my cookbook addiction. I will probably try Eating Well next. But if anyone has recommendations for cooking magazines that they regularly cook out of and that provide plenty of recipes that are good, fast and healthy, please post them in the comments.
P.S. I welcome all recommendations but will be likely to turn up my nose at any with Rachael Ray on the cover.