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NY TImes food section - what's happened?

Is it just me, or has the weekly food section gone downhill? I used to find tons of interesting articles and recipes there and lately all I'm seeing is restaurant reviews and chef gossip. Totally boring and useless, frankly. Am I the only one who feels this way?

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  1. I haven't seen as many interesting articles lately, but I'm thinking this is probably because it's summer, people have been on vacation, and so on.

    I'm really enjoying Frank Bruni's blog, though.

    1. There's a lot more travel/lifestyle crap that has creeped into it, and like every other publication or show where that has happened, the quality declines. I assume consultants have been pushing this phenomenon for some time now, as it is pervasive in everything that appeals to upper middle class/lower upper class folk. The trend is to emphasize appeals to people's dreams and aspirations over providing hard information. It sucks. (Btw, the reason things like America's Test Kitchen work for so many other folks is because those things are the counter-reaction to this baleful trend.)

      1. I think you are all right. I hadn't put my finger on why I no longer care if I miss a Dining section, but there it is. I have a particular interest in the Greenmarket, so I'm glad to see the occasional article about it, but the recipes aren't all that interesting and articles about chefs, well, not so fascinating either.

        1. too much celebrity chef stuff and too much fine writing - too little focus on delicious food accessible to cooks - the improvement in the wine column was buried by all this boring stuff. When I remember how the paper used to open up new cuisines, introduce a new cook cooking unfamiliar food practically every week, Im sad. There's a jaded seen it all attitude that pervades it. Delicious food is always exciting

          1. I agree...the focus seems more on lifestyle and personalities rather than food. This is the same change that Gourmet magazine made back in 1999 in an effort to appeal to a younger audience. The magazine is now a pale imitation of what it used to be...filled with chef profiles and less than half the recipes and articles on cooking that it once had. I hope that the NY Times staff has simply been on vacation...not following this unfortunate trend.

            1. A large factor in the demise of traditional rest. print reviews are community/peer review websites like CH, Yelp, etc.

              The NYT, regardless of its resources, can't compete in volume and timeliness of tens of thousands of reviewers spread out everywhere. I'm not saying web reviews are a bad thing (I think opposite), but if you were running a business, would you go head-to-head with a 8,000 lb. gorilla or change your model?

              I'm not defending more lifestyle coverage in print but I can see how focusing on it brings some expertise of information that casual (web) reviewers replicate easily.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                Ok, fine. I can accept that this is part of food writing. But the fact that reviews of restaurants and new chefs (or old chefs) do not, in my opinion, a food section make. And I guess I just don't have the patience to wade through or follow blogs of any sort. I want a good, meaty column about food that contains information and recipes. I am willing to wait out the season a bit, just in case they really have all been on vacation over the summer. But to be honest, that trend began quite a while ago, so I'm not optimistic.

                Which newspaper still has a great food section?

                1. re: Nyleve

                  For that matter, how many people eagerly open their NYT sunday magazine to see the food column any more? It too seems to have degenerated into lifestyle/fine writing mode

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    That section is completely AWOL so far as I am concerned.

                    The fact is that there is little that this former daily NY Times reader finds essential to read any more. I read it when I find it congenial to do so, but the paper is a shadow of its former self, and the food section in particular is a shadow of a shadow.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      when molly o'neil was doing it.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        It used to be my treat to read it after all the serious news. Now, I just glance at it and find most of the topics irrelevant and/or uninteresting. I haven't cut out a recipe from there in quite a while.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I greatly enjoy the weekly Dining section and look forward to reading it. But I was turned off to the Sunday Magazine food column when Amanda Hesser started weaving her personal life into the columns. Really--who cares about her or her boyfriend or what he likes or doesn't like? It was so cloying and annoying. It's all about the food, stupid. I do miss R.W. Apple's column though. To read about his travels and the food he ate on his trips makes me want to pack my bags, pick any spot on a map, and just go there and eat!

                    2. Well, it looks like the Times has a new dining section editor: http://eater.com/archives/2006/09/bre...

                      Perhaps Pete Wells will change the section's direction a bit?

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                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Krista G

                        Guess the NYT is going bloggy on food given Wells' "love of food blogs". Their general website has started to use a lot of video on demand. Not saying this is good or bad but I can see them trying to stay "relevant" for the next generation and they're following the money.