"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, November 30, 2009


A few weeks ago, I awoke to find many of the people I follow on Twitter mourning the demise of Gourmet Magazine. To read some of the posts you would believe that this rearranging of the deckchairs on The Titanic by a major publishing conglomerate was the end of the food writing world as we know it.

I am unsure how many of the people wailing pitiful laments had actually read a copy recently. If they had, they would have noticed a marked change from its former glories. I have to admit to not having bought a copy for a few years. But, glancing at the latest edition in a US airport bookshop earlier in the year I found it was no longer the witty, informative and inspiring magazine I would have forked out hard cash for and had become a glossy and dispiriting way to pass a few moments before boarding the cattle truck to Los Angeles. Perhaps I am being unfair, but the fact it is being put out of its misery by its parent speaks to the fact that I am not alone in my views on the magazine itself and perhaps to the fact that this delivery system for food information no longer carries any value.

There are now so many sources of information that it is possible to argue that the era of the magazine is truly over. Online is, of course, the biggest challenge and the storm troops of the Internet are the blogs. When we began Dos Hermanos nearly four years ago there were, I think, less than half a dozen UK food bloggers, now we could fill the Centre Court at Wimbledon and all are throwing information out into the world at a rate that could never have been imagined when Gourmet first hit the presses.

Are they any good? Well, some are of course. Some are filled with great writing, wonderful family recipes and witty descriptions of eating experiences. Others are little more that aggregators of releases from the burgeoning army of food P.R’s desperate for column inches however worthless those inches may be. I will leave you to decide where Dos Hermanos fits in. Believe me HP and I receive enough mails and comments of both opinions to make us regularly question whether we want to carry on.

Despite this recent technology inspired onslaught, there is, I am certain still space in our lives for serious food writing of the sort that made us want to start blogs in the first place and time in our lives to carve a few minutes for the indulgence of reading something which does not threaten to fill your screens with pop-ups.

Which is why I am pleased to be able to give a plug for my chum, Tim Hayward and his excellent new food quarterly, FIRE & KNIVES. As the name suggests, every three months, Tim will gather together articles both new and old, which show the very best of what the food writing world has to offer, using a model which has been used for so long by The Paris Review.

This makes Tim, if you will allow me, the George Plimpton of food writing and if his pieces in The Guardian are anything to go by, the articles in FIRE & KNIVES promises to be witty, challenging, infuriating and hugely enjoyable by equal measure.

The first issue is available now from, as they say, all good stores. However,a year’s subscription costs a measly £20 and strikes me as something, which would make a rather good Christmas present.

Well that’s HP’s gift sorted then.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another in the vein of informative and inspiring is The Art of Eating by Edward Behr. Excellent for its content and style.

Monday, November 30, 2009 6:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd say judging a magazine based on one random issue is pretty useless. A bit like judging your entire blog on this post, which I find simplistic and wrong-headed in its analysis of Gourmet's demise. But I won't judge you on this alone. Gourmet was the only mainstream magazine tackling the important food issues of the day, it was always ahead of the curve (aquaculture, farm-to-table, local, etc.--go ahead, look through the last 5 years), and unlike most of the online recipes I've tried, theirs actually work. I've had my problems with the magazine, but it wasn't killed for editorial reasons (content is easy to change--the industry's failure to address its problems, from paper costs to charging too little for subscriptions, is really to blame).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:00:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

As you say, it is hard to judge something/someone just on one instance, so I wont judge you either based just on this comment, which seems to have been made without reading the post. But, thrilled the recipes worked for you


Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:15:00 pm  

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