Monday, October 12, 2009

You Stupid Bloggers Killed Gourmet Magazine

That is the gist of Christopher Kimball's argument found here.

 Kimball is the publisher of Cook's Illustrated, author of several cookbooks, and host of "America's Test Kitchen". He bemoans Conde Nast's decision to close Gourmet magazine (with three others) and he clearly blames you knuckleheads that read and/or write food blogs and search for recipes online.

"The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up."

I would argue that an issue of Gourmet (I once had a free subscription) was a collection of a few recipes buried under hundreds of annoying advertisements. The magazine was more like a woman's fashion magazine than a cooking periodical. To me, it was too similar to other checkout rack garbage to bother renewing when the free subscription lapsed.

Kimball's rag uses an entirely different business model. His magazine does not contain scores of scratch and sniff perfume and Jaguar ads. Subscription and retail sales drive his business (along with many pull-out mailers hawking their latest book). Maybe he should have focused his criticism on Conde Nast's business model as he has not gone down the same road.

Cook's Illustrated is another periodical to which I no longer subscribe. I grew tired of all the provincial New England type recipes but what really turned me against the magazine was their God-awful attempts to cook anything that did not include roast turkey or "chowdah". An "Essential" salsa recipe better have more than one jalapeno in it or you are just a bow tie wearing candyass afraid of anything that actually has flavor. Stick to "chowdah".

Kimball's editorial in the NY Times confirms his status as an effete snob. I will continue to both shun his products and use the Internet to find things I'd like to cook.

Unlike Mr. Kimball I welcome your opinion. Now, if you will please excuse me, I have to go microwave a SpagettiOs, corn dog and Cheez Whiz casserole recipe I found online.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The last of the Eries

In 1880 the Seldon & Griswold Manufacturing Company began producing cast iron hollow ware (what we now call cookware) in its Erie, Pennsylvania factory. Labeled "ERIE", the finished product was named after the company hometown.{Sidney and Wapak were also named after their respective hometowns Sidney OH and Wapakoneta OH}

After reorganizing as the Griswold Manufacturing Company in 1887, a desire to rename the cast iron products resulted in the changes visible in these two skillets. Both were produced between 1904 to 1906 and the design is nearly identical but the "Griswold's Erie" (seen on the number 6) introduced the Griswold name to customers of the time.

The Griswold's Erie skillets were only produced for a two year period, 1905 and 1906, making them a little more collectible and therefore more valuable than their otherwise identical Erie and Griswold counterparts.

Cast iron collectors now recognize six series of Erie skillets. The number 8 pictured above is a stellar example of the final series. The inset heat ring and beefier handle are two of the characteristics that one finds in later Eries.

Both of these skillets are functional and beautiful antiques that showcase the workmanship found in handmade products from over 100 year ago.

Griswold cast iron went on to become the dominant name in American cast iron until 1957.

For more info see my Griswold article here LINK