Farewell, Gourmet: A Look Back at Ten Tasty Covers

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“Stopped to buy sandwich (no time to eat today),” Twittered former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl from the Newark airport on Wednesday afternoon. “And the woman behind the counter said, ‘I’m so sorry; this one’s on me.'” We’ll have the rest of our lives to look back in hunger at Gourmet, the 68-year-old Conde Nast title that was shuttered on Monday along with Cookie, Elegant Bride, and Modern Bride (fear not, brides, there’s still Brides), but we thought we’d take this opportunity to remember some of our favorite covers. First up, the last cover (at left, October 2009), a blood-red candy apple with a wooden stake through its heart—OK, maybe we’re projecting. And at right, the March 2009 cover that imparted a humble sandwich with the dreamy grandure of a Richard Misrach beach photo.

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Speaking of brides, Gourmet had just the thing for them on its maximalist June 1954 cover, pictured at left. Eat your heart out, Ace of Cakes, because this towering dessert spectacle illustrated by Henry Stahlhut is studded with roses and pearls (Ouch! I think I lost a filling!) and framed by a hovering golden cherub brandishing gauzy draperies. Should the cherub become a nuisance, a Reed and Barton sword is at the ready. At right, the striking November 1983 cover featured glazed fruit on parade as photographed by Ronny Jacques at Milan’s Peck market. Hungry yet?


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Ducks were anything but lucky in October 1952, when canard au sang (pressed duck) made the cover of Gourmet. The traditional French dish calls for partial roasting of a duck followed by grounding in a scary-looking metal device. Stahlhut juxtaposed the finished product, in a copper chafing dish, with a frightened relative fleeing to warn the rest of the flock. On a much lighter note, August 2000 (at right, photographed by Craig Cutler), was all about popsicles!

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Ornaments? We don’t need no stinking ornaments! What we need are more holiday cookies, and fast! We can Shellac the burnt ones and hang them from ribbons for the December 2006 cover. Meanwhile, Stahlhut really outdid himself for the August 1953 cover. How to make borscht look appealing? Add a generous island of sour cream and then visually echo the dish in an inviting raspberry-hued sun umbrella. Pass the blintzes!

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A hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage at the bunker? Stahlhut had war on his mind in November 1944. As for that cryptic note, it’s either part of the pancake recipe or a Manhattan Project ‘to do’ list, as both contained two heaping tablespoons of uranium-235. And finally we come to June 1986, for which photographer Romulo Yanes captured the ’80s in mounds of melon balls and ephemeral spheres of lemon granita.