Monday, March 29, 2004

Great Food Magazines

I have a shocking confession to make. There are times, sometimes whole weeks when I don't feel like cooking. The fridge may be empty or full; it makes no difference. Not in the mood. The muse has left the building. In this predicament we just have to eat out, order in and wait for the feelings to pass. Another good solution to jump start one's cooking mojo, is to turn to cooking magazines.

There are so many cooking magazines available at my local newsstand it boggles the mind. There are the widely available typical American ones like Everyday Food, Bon Appetit, and Cooking Light and the more esoteric ones like Saveur, Cook's Illustrated, Food Arts and Gastronomica. There are also a whole host of foreign ones, from English speaking countries mind you, like Olive, Delicious, BBC Good Food and Food & Travel. English ones, Australian ones, Canadian ones. Some really interesting stuff too. But because they are printed abroad they come at a high price.

Browsing at the newsstand can inspire a weeks worth of recipes, easy. Because reading a cooking magazine allows you to daydream a bit, a chance to ponder the possibilities. But all cooking magazines are not the same. All of them offer recipes, techniques, travel and restaurant reviews but each has a different slant. Here is a run-down of cooking magazines I actually subscribe to and why. (I've included links to their websites, though none of the sites can hold a candle to the actual magazines.)

Food & Wine
My favorite among the bunch, Food & Wine has a more contemporary even sophisticated sensibility than other typical food magazines. The wine articles are not intimidating and the recipes are more original and inspiring than I find elsewhere. It also has travel articles in fact, the best restaurants we tried in Spain were recommendations from a copy of Food & Wine.

Bon Appetit
"America's food and entertaining magazine". Bon Appetit offers readers favorite restaurant recipes and it truly excels with it's "every night cooking" and "too busy to cook" recipes each month. The recipes are interesting, appealing and accessible. But it's focus is on how to entertain with food and it does a great job at that too.

Gourmet's best issues are the collector's editions that focus on one city and cover recipes, restaurants, markets, trends and history. Since the redesign, Gourmet has become much less the magazine for the epicure than it used to be. It now features the "quick kitchen" and "five ingredients" recipes in addition to the more involved preparations. Unfortunately it doesn't do as a good a job with those as Bon Appetit does. It also offers up plenty of travel and shopping articles.

Saveur is like the National Geographics of food and cooking. Not only are there recipes, but stories on origins of different kinds foods, drinks, ingredients and culinary traditions. Their emphasis is on authenticity but it's not at all snooty. It's here you will discover unusual ingredients and little known places to shop and dine.

If you are interested in subscribing to any cooking magazines, I highly recommend you check out For right around the price of one issue, you can get a whole years subscription. As as an example, available through their site at the moment is Saveur, a one year subscription 8 issues will set you back $3.99 (single issue on the newstand is $5.00).