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Magazine Reviews: Rachel, Paula, Sandra and the Whole Food Network Gang

Food Magazines

It’s been a long and busy week, but I’ve found time during breaks to look at a few “superstar chef” magazines. Here’s what’s on my reading shelf these days:

First off, you might think a Web-savvy crew such as the Elves here at the Underground wouldn’t be much interested in print media. Well, you’d be off the mark a bit. The Interwebz is a wondrous place, but it’s difficult to take it into the, er, library. You know, that special place where all the important thinking gets done? Yeah, THAT one. Having a laptop doesn’t help, unless you’re trying hard to get a new one; even gold contacts can corrode in that environment. (Take it from a pro on this point. A pro chemist, I mean.)

That said, there are a lot of things you can’t find online in any case. Many magazines hold back their prime recipes for their print editions. Otherwise, why bother? And no matter how big and bright your monitor is, print pics just somehow look better. Sometimes. Besides, you wouldn’t want to get drool all over your nice 32″ LED monitor, would you?

Some general observations should work for now. First off, what is it with female celebrity chefs each getting their own magazines? By far, they outnumber the guys by a large margin. Food Network Magazine (FNM) shows off all their stars, one way or another, and they seem to have a reasonable “gender” balance. (No matter which stack you want to put some of these chefs in.) All the mags have recipe indices, most of them in the last few pages. FNM puts theirs in the front; page 10 in the current issue.

Be wary of the huge recipe counts shown on the covers of some of these magazines. Distinct recipes might be a lot lower, once you lump all the tweaks into a pile. Still, none of these issues are light on the body recipe counts. Since this is early in the year, many of these items are for low-calorie dishes; a cycle you expect after the gorge-fest that is the Holidays. I especially enjoy Rachel’s use of cost totals for some dishes; budget planning is a big consideration in these tight economic times! The recipes themselves, in all four mags I studied, look stunning (great soft food porn food portraiture) and at the same time, most of them are clearly within the skills of the home cook. There’s no reason food that tastes great and is appealing to the eye (and nose) can’t be made at home.

Each issue also shows some travel-and-dining ideas, although I didn’t notice any that looked to be expensive. Seems to me that the owners and editors are all well in tune with their markets! I’d guess that Rachel’s mag has the most advertisements, all very slickly produced and executed. Naturally, it’s not your payments for the issues that drives their economic power!

I’ll be looking more deeply in these volumes in the coming weeks, to see what kinds of differences I can detect that you might be interested in. Not to mention finding some mouth-watering eats…

Enjoy the (Library Throne Reading) Heat!

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