Savoring the Delicious

Gourmet magazine is folding and I think it may be my fault.

My grandmother told me to never let my subscription lapse; I always kept it going, no matter what.  My husband renewed my subscription to Gourmet every year as a gift. He is the first to say that he benefited from my loyalty to the magazine.

I was told to never let it lapse, but in the end I did. It happened gradually.  I began to view epicurious.com as my personal archive of Gourmet recipes.   All of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas Brunch, and Christmas Dinner were there.  Recipes for muffins for house guests and stews to console friends could be printed out in minutes.   I began to ignore the roux-splattered magazines that lined my cookbook shelves. I wondered if it wouldn’t be “greener” and more responsible to stop the subscription. My husband was reluctant.  He said my relationship to the magazine was about more than cooking, but in the end he agreed (“submitted” is his word).  We finally canceled. We weren’t the only ones.  Loyal subscribers logged on and subscriptions lagged.

My mother spent many Sunday afternoons reading and clipping recipes from Gourmet.  She told me that in retrospect, she realizes that she cooked very few of those recipes. For her the magazine was about savoring possibility.  And she loved the writers: MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, James Beard.  And our favorite: Laurie Colwin.

I clipped recipes, too, but I also clipped travel articles, my own homage to possibility.  And when possibility became reality I knew where to eat and where to stay, no matter where in the world we were.  Gourmet taught me about cooking and writing and a lot about travel, too.

But the magazine’s last lesson to me is this: Reading is meant to be delicious.  Readers savor possibility in the turning of pages.  There is a difference between skimming a screen and reading.

I know it now.  When I began to log on to epicurious. com, I went straight to the recipes.  I never read another essay; I never read another travel piece. Something important was eroding without my knowledge, but with my participation.

You may catch me skimming an article from the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Richmond Times Dispatch on my iphone, but you won’t catch me reading one. Really reading a newspaper requires the smell of newsprint, the feel of its thin fibers between your fingers, and the sound of a paper (and story) unfolding.  It also means supporting the writers financially. I know it now and I won’t let those subscriptions lapse.

From Gourmet I learned about the felicitous combination of orange and chocolate; caper and tomato; grapefruit and mint. Now I have a growing awareness of the value of morning coffee paired with my newspaper. It means more time at the breakfast table, help with the crossword puzzle, and ideas shared in random read-aloud snippets from articles, editorials, and letters to the editor. It means reading in company or reading in peaceful solitude.

It turns out that Gourmet wasn’t about the cooking.  It was about the feast.   Now I know–too late, but just in time– and I’m thankful.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified third grade teacher and loves her work. She especially enjoys teaching children how to be enthusiastic readers, writers, and problem solvers. Every year, she hopes to inspire her students to be committed citizens who know they can make a difference in the world around them. When she is not teaching, Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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8 Responses to Savoring the Delicious

  1. Libby says:

    Annie, I thought you might like my sister’s blog post on the same issue: http://www.learningtoeatbook.com/2009/10/losing-gourmet/

    I, too, let magazines go for the internet, and am now adding them back–there is a difference, you’re right!

  2. Daniela Jacobs says:

    Annie, as I watched your class leave the building to walk to the Science Museum it reminds me that you are absolutely on target—NOTHING can replace the experience (holding a newspaper or magazine to flip through the pages skimming the adds/article OR going to the museum to learn). Thankyou for all you are doing for our world. It is a better place because you care!

  3. jedolci says:

    That’s wonderful, Mom. I won’t let my subscriptions lapse!

  4. elliott says:

    Oh, Annie, I love this post for all the magazines, Gourmet and others, (yes, including True Confessions!) that we’ve read in our lifetimes. Maybe someday people will read your blog like heiroglyphics on the pyramid wall in a paperless world.

  5. Abbie says:

    and you thought this week was…how did you put it?…random?
    i hear you loud and clear. i would rather buy a 2 year old c.d. and call it “new” than beg my son to help me download the songs. I love collecting books, even if, ooops…I only get 1/2 way through, and back to the real world I go…magazines directed toward the life I used to have: babies, midwives, wooden toys, homeschooling…still catch my eye and I have to have them, to hold. and remember. and you will never see me bypassing a free book give-away, or cheap sale even if I my kids are too old or too young…I keep them, look at them and organize all of them – so that they are ready for me when I need them.
    xoxo
    a.

  6. parkerspoets says:

    I happened to look at today’s paper and noticed a familiar face in the editorial section. Since many here might not be able to get their hands on a hard copy, here is the link:
    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/opinion/op_ed/article/ED-ANNIE25_20091124-174006/307656/
    Congrats Annie!

  7. parkerspoets says:

    Ok, so here is my real comment.
    While I have lately become a fan of a few online blogs and forums, I have to agree with the value of reading the “old fashioned” way. I have always enjoyed sitting down with a magazing to peruse its contents. I currently subscribe to a few magazines on a variety of subjects, from natural living to classic cars. I have copies in the living room, on my bedside table, and in the basement in my office. What I love about having them around is that I can sit down when I have a few minutes and just look. Most times I have already read the whole magazine more than once, but I still love to re-read the text and look at the pictures again. Usually they don’t get to the recycling until the next issue arrives. Even then some go into an archive for research purposes at a later date. I could probably read each of these magazines online if I chose, but it would not be the same as lying on the floor in the living room with the children all around. Even Iris has shown some interest in the glossy pictures. Reading is valued in our house. We lead by example.

  8. Walt Shugart says:

    Annie: Enjoyed this piece in today’s R T-D. It specifically reflected your warmth and depth. As well as your students, your friends and acquaintances are blessed by your sharing. God Bless!

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