I guess I’m finally ready to talk about it.
It’s been a week of pure denial around here, a full-on textbook display of grief’s notorious first stage. And while I could certainly forge on in my denial-ridden dream world – the one in which, some day, I am a Gourmet contributor, I feel it’s probably best for my mental health that I face this thing head on.
Gourmet is gone. Well, almost. It has one issue left, and then it’s no more. After 68 years. Sixty. Eight.
Gourmet’s tragic demise has been talked about endlessly; people all over the internet are speculating about why it fell, and even having little rivalries over it. Which, to me, all feels kind of like a tease, because there is really no point.
It did make me think, though, of that meeting I had this summer with an editor from Bon Appetit (lucky, lucky Bon Appetit). Remember the sensational magazine editor I mentioned meeting? She was Pat Brown, a former Bon Appetit and Cuisine editor who is perhaps the most inspiring, firecracker-of-a-woman I have ever met. We talked about her personal relationships with Julia Child and Ruth Reichl, among others, but mostly, we talked about how I wanted to do what she did one day, and how I should get there.
I remember her story about how she got started at magazines, just a short while after she had moved to New York; “You’re just going to love the city, you know,” she’d keep leaning over to say, in between bites of her French marketplate. While working at a rent-paying job, she was sitting in a diner one morning, and idly chatting with a man, who asked her what she really wanted to do with her life. Bluntly, she told the man that really, she wanted to work at the New Yorker. A little while later, partly by the good graces of connections, she really was.
I don’t doubt that she would have gotten there eventually without the help of this man. (Seriously, meet her, and you’ll know what I mean.) But her story makes me think of being at the right place at the right time. And in a larger sense, it makes me wonder if this generation is really even the right time for print media anymore. I hope, hope, hope it is, but when things like Gourmet happen, it makes everyone a little uneasy. (Or, it makes the food nerds a little uneasy; I suppose I can’t speak for everyone.)
Anyway, this is all just to say that Pat Brown’s reality of how she got started is actually my dream. I want to meet a magazine man in a diner, too. Of course, I’d be just as happy without the serendipity, and just with working my way up. But I can always dream it – and rest assured I always will – but I want it, by the time I’m old enough, to be my reality too.