August 13, 2018 at 3:53 pm #13188
In a baking post the week of August 12, I made a side comment on the changes in Bon Appetit. Maybe there is interest in a more expansive discussion? I’ve not looked at the magazine for ages. I did go through some issues from the late 1990s and early 2000s before I moved, and I still have a stack that I’ve been saving for after the endlessly postponed house remodel. Even in its glory days, I had a problematic relationship with Bon Appetit, especially after the editor whose columns I enjoyed, passed away. Over the years, I had gift subscriptions and even renewals by me. The stories about the multigenerational families getting together for holidays, with the complex scrumptious menus and accompanying exquisite china and table decorations, did appeal to me, particularly in my graduate student days. I also liked the RSVP column where readers could ask the magazine to request recipes from various restaurants, and there was even a section for simpler recipes. I loved the Thanksgiving and December issues. The magazine introduced me to Dorie Greenspan, Ken Haedrich, and even King Arthur flour. I stopped subscribing sometime around 2006 because I was mostly interested in baking, and they seemed to be moving away from it. The magazine was originally headquartered in Los Angeles, but the editor began to speak about flying to New York, so I’ve assumed the original publishing group was bought out. These days, it is definitely a New York magazine.
Bon Appetit moved into the electronic age a couple of years ago, and I signed up for their emails, which show up daily. Most are deleted after a cursory look. I occasionally print and try a recipe or get an idea for looking for a different recipe. As Navlys commented, there seems to be a desire for “fusion” food (is that what you were getting at?) when it comes to the ingredients–the more unusual, or trendier, the better. Some of their flavor combinations puzzle me. While new combinations are not necessarily unappetizing, the developers seem to be combining ingredients for the sake of doing so. Most of the main dishes are “throw together” dinners, and while we all need such recipes, and we can learn about flavor combinations, there is a lack of recipes that seem actually to REQUIRE a recipe. The emails also speak to people following the latest trendy ingredients, some of which are not easily available to people not in urban areas. And then there are the “rent week” emails about stretching food, and I wonder about their planning. Most of these do not really need recipes. I suspect that Bon Appetit’s audience is people who do not do a lot of cooking and baking but occasionally wander into a kitchen, people who never learned much about cooking and baking, and peole who want their cooking and baking to be as fast as possible. They are cultivating a certain kind of millennial audience, but I’m not convinced that the majority of millennials even fit into that narrow idea of what a millennial is. Not everyone lives in New York.
Maybe that is the way it has to be in the cut-throat modern world of magazine publishing with its electronic component. However, their emails do not make me want to go pick up a copy of the magazine.August 13, 2018 at 11:11 pm #13189
I stopped reading Bon Appetit so long ago that James Beard was probably still alive the last time I read it.August 14, 2018 at 9:47 am #13191
I like to remember how much I enjoyed the old BA issues. Once I made their whole Christmas dinner menu including peeling those little pearl onions. I have to say my guests were as impressed as I was. I loved most every issue. It broke my heart when I discovered that all those magazines were crowding my life and I had to give them away. I cannot relate to the New Bon Appetit in any way shape or form. But I am glad I was around when it was a great magazine.August 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm #13194
Even after I stopped subscribing to Bon Appetit, I would buy the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues.
At least I still have some issues to page through, as well as recipes I pulled out to try.August 15, 2018 at 2:55 pm #13199
I also have a stack of the older magazines to browse through. I have one favorite recipe I found years ago that I still make every winter. It’s for Potato Garlic Soup with Rosemary Butter. It’s quick and delicious served with sourdough bread. Some of the newer recipes from various places use some really unusual combinations that I would never try. I’m glad not to be subscribed any longer.
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