Retrospective covers 69 years of iconic Gourmet magazine


If you’ve ever wondered how the best information about food trends, top chefs and food preparation were shared throughout the world before the Internet, for many people the answer is Gourmet — The Magazine of Good Living.

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What: The Life and Death of Gourmet — The Magazine of Good Living

Where: Hatcher Graduate Library, Seventh Floor South, Special Collections

When: Through Dec. 1, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lecture: Library Gallery, Nov.18, 4-6 p.m.

It bespoke sophisticated dining, entertaining and travel.

A new exhibit, “The Life and Death of Gourmet — The Magazine of Good Living,” will be on display through Dec. 1 on the seventh floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library.

Adjunct curator Jan Longone will talk about the exhibit from 4-6 p.m. Nov.18 in the Hatcher Library Gallery, with a reception to follow. Both the exhibit and the lecture are free and open to the public.

One issue from each of Gourmet’s 69 years of publication (1941-2009) is on display, as well as books published by Gourmet and books published over the years by leading contributors to Gourmet.

Items are drawn from the U-M Library’s Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, a renowned collection for the study of American culinary history.

Longone has spent much of her life building this large and diverse selection of cookbooks, menus, magazines, advertisements, and ephemera related to culinary history. More than a decade ago, she and her husband, Dan, donated the collection to the university to make it available to students and scholars, and they continue to add to the collection.

“In the late ’30s and ’40s, people started forming gourmet food- and wine-tasting clubs to talk intellectually about food. Gourmet came out around that time, and helped change lifestyles around the world. Many culinary historians were shaped and formed by Gourmet. Gourmet gave us a vehicle to become culinary historians,” Longone says.

“Early in our marriage, Dan gave me a copy of The Gourmet Cookbook. It came with an invitation to buy a lifetime subscription, and a $2 coupon toward that. We saved up the $48, which was hard to do 60 years ago, and we still have our lifetime subscription. It was a very good decision for us, and, probably, for many other budding culinary historians and foodies.”

Gourmet illuminated the “best of the best” in categories such as farm-to-table practices long before they became fashionable, reviewed top restaurants and chefs, and highlighted the magical integration of fine food with sommeliers, growers, and artists.

And, of course, it provided recipes — recipes recommended by the magazine, recipes submitted by readers, and recipes requested by readers — all presented in a glossy, full-color format.

Over its seven decades, Gourmet was served to the public by the “who’s who” of the food world, from founder Earle R. MacAusland to the last editor, Ruth Reichl.

Today there are TV shows, food magazines and websites that grow our knowledge and propagate new food trends. In fact, parent company Condé Nast continues the Gourmet brand online. “The Life and Death of Gourmet” takes visiors back to the beginning of this ongoing story.

The exhibit curated by Jan Longone, Cecilia Fileti, Lili Krezel and Joanne Nesbit.

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