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Is Saveur magazine very good?

I've heard alot about it and was wondering...Is Saveur magazine very good?
I was going to get it for my mom she's just an average middle class mom.Do you think she would enjoy it or is Saveur too self-indulgent?I've heard it satifies a wide range of tastes.-thanks in advance.

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  1. It's a great reading magazine, not just for the food but also as a travelogue. And the photography is gorgeous.

    1. I would just warn that its recipes often require specialty items not available in your average grocery store--(at least *my* average grocery store in suburban NY)

      1. I used to have a subscription to it. It has its pros and cons. The pros are that the pictures and articles are some of the best around and there aren't too many adverts (compared to Gourmet, Bon Ap, F&W, etc.). The con is that, as aformentioned, many of the recipes are difficult because they do require odd ingredients (though this is a sign they are very authentic). For that reason, I've very rarely made any recipes from the magazine, even though I've really wanted to. In the summer they also combine say June/July and Aug/Sept. or something like that, so you don't get quite as many issues. If I were to pick out of all the food magazines, I would choose that one though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: izzizzi

          I really like Saveur and subscribe to it. But I have to admit I don't cook from it very often. I just enjoy it for the same reasons others posted here. Great articles, lovely photography and inspiration.

        2. I subscribed when it first came out, and received it for a couple of years. I agree with other posters, it has it's strengths, but they are very different from those that I find in Cooks Illustrated and other magazine.

          1. My wife really likes Saveur, and prefers reading it over Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cooks Illustrated, etc. The photography is stunning, and the editorial is well written. But compared to the other magazines, they tend to write about food and drink from around the world, and this is what is appealing to my wife and I. We often cook ethnic foods and try things that are different- so searching around for odd ingredients to make a dish authentic is fun for us, not a chore.
            If your mom enjoys travel (or just day-dreaming about it) and foods of other cultures, this would be right her alley, but if she wants to make basic American dishes from readily available ingredients, I would suggest one of those other magazines I mentioned.
            By the way, my (very conservative, very traditional, never travel) Mom really enjoys Cooks Illustrated. No advertising, lots of recipe testing (how to make the BEST chocolate chip cookies, etc) and kitchen gadget reviews.

            1. The recipes aren't always tested properly, but for food porn, it's one of the best.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yep, great eye candy and very esoteric. I've never been tempted to cook a single thing from it. Nor do I save them any of them. Just no reference points for me.

                1. re: sivyaleah

                  It gives me travel ideas. Next month I'm finally eating at La Tupiña, which I read about in Saveur years ago:


              2. Saveur is one of my favorites. But I just gotta say that the captions on their beautiful photos are the most uninformative, uninteresting captions I've ever seen. (Though it does make for entertaining reading just to see how horrible the captions can be.)

                1. Saveur is my favorite "food" magazine. True it is not a cooking magazine. When I want recipes I usually go to a website. I have cooked some things from the magazine (only the simple things). The ingredients are rather obscure some of the time, but I believe that they are true to the stories which they are published with. I can not speak to authenticity since most of the cuisines I read about in the mag are foreign to me.

                  1. Even average middle class moms can have a rich internal fantasy life. Is she an adventurous traveler at heart? Saveur. Does she like simple, homey food and advice? Cook's Country. Something in-between? Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Cooks Ill. Why not buy her one issue of each and let her decide? Comparison shopping can be fun.

                    1. I collect Saveur the way other people collect National Geographic (I have every issue since 1998). There are only two recipes from my nearly 10 year collection that I make with any regularity - Sullivan Street Bakery's Potato Pizza, and the lasagna with fresh spinach noodles, bolognese, and bechamel from an article on Emilia-Romagna - but they're both excellent. I tend to go through my archives whenever I'm planning a trip (one fave - Rick Bayless' article on Maxwell Street Market in Chicago). It inspires trips as well (like an upcoming one to Kerala). I read it to learn about cuisines I would never have thought about otherwise (a fantastic article on cilantro got me into Georgian, as in former Russian Republic, food).

                      1. Savuer is also my favorite cooking mag mainly for the articles. It think I've made one recipe once or twice and have a few othere that I've clipped but not tried yet.

                        1. It's the only general-distribution food magazine I subscribe to anymore. Its focus is exactly where my own main interest is, on food as a social and anthropological phenomenon, with a major slant towards exploring the fun of it. I generally ignore the recipes, but then find myself going back to them over and over; the Indiana persimmon pudding, Coleman Andrews' fried chicken and the mango sherbet have been dragged through my kitchen enough to render them ragged.

                          They have not quite kept the faith as well as I'd prefer they would - Andrews's departure and the unfortunate redesign were both disappointing to me, and symptomatic of further disappointments - but while it's not the only newsstand food rag I'll read, it's still the only one I consider worth subscribing to.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Allow me to amend the above evaluation: I just got the new issue yesterday, and there's a lot of truly stunning stuff in there, including a piece by Francine Prose on grocery shopping that says exactly what my wife and I would say on the subject if we could write that well!

                            In the editor's intro, there's an anecdote about being on assignment in southern Thailand, and showing a copy of the magazine to the Thai people who were preparing the feast. They leafed through it, clearly puzzled that a whole magazine should be devoted to something so common as food, and then one woman suddenly grinned and said something which her son translated: "Oh, I see - it's not just about food, it's about people!"

                            Would anyone say that about Chris Kimball's magazine?

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              It's not just about food, it's about anal-retentive people.

                          2. I don't subscribe and have been wondering if I should for a while now. I often pick it up when flying, as it's great reading and the photos are gorgeous. As for cooking from it, I should say I don't usually with one notable exception. I first learned about the Thai dish larb in Saveur, after a chef friend adapted the recipe on her restaurant's menu, and I ate it there. I asked her for the recipe and she referred me to the magazine. I've kept and used it every summer, grilling the catfish and pounding the rice in a mortar. It's not exactly an easy recipe, but it's doable, and so worth the time! If your Mom doesn't have a Mark Bittmann approach to ethnic food, I think she might like Saveur, even if it's on the exotic side for her.

                            1. Thanks all for your replys so far.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: widehomehi

                                It used to be far and away the best food magazines. I'll never forget the story on Angostura Bitters and the one on the tomato crush. But since it was bought by World Publishing in Orlando, it's just not as classy and isn't attracting the writers it once did. Also, it is obviously done on the cheap since that company took over.

                                1. re: BronxBoy

                                  I thought so, too, until this issue. I'm also very much impressed with the new editor's writing, and with the photography he did for the Southern Thai article. The silly typography seems to have melted away, too. I want the old cover format back, yeah, but I'm feeling a hell of a lot better about the rest of it now. We just re-subscribed.

                              2. My $.02
                                I've subscribed for many years and save it (a la National Geographic).
                                The few recipes I've made have been stunning and authentic. The simplicity and authenticity of the Key Lime Pie and Cheese Enchiladas enhanced my cooking reputation immeasurably. The spinich lasagna is still on my radar.
                                The articles on Madeira and on Trinidad, on dates and on pineapples were all wonderful and informative. Recreating their California Road Trip from Trinindad, CA to Tijuana MX was a treat, too.
                                Their advertising and editorial focus has been tending towards food porn in recent days. Luscious Photos are still part of the presentation.
                                Nothing lasts forever!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Phood

                                  Hi Phood - I started a thread on the Home Cooking board asking for names of people's favorite recipes and reference info - seems like even the most devoted Saveur readers have only a handful of recipes that they've made (but love!) - so I thought I'd try to help us all maximize our collections. If you get a chance, pls pop over and add yours!


                                  That goes for everyone else too - amyzan, I already posted the info for the Thai larb - after I read your post, I immediately dug through my collection to find that recipe - now it's going to sit on my kitchen counter forever while I try to decide whether or not I should get a charcoal grill. Will Owen, the recipes you named aren't triggering memories of the accompanying articles, and my reference system kind of fell apart in the last few years (and forget about using the Saveur online archives)... could you post reference infos for your favorite recipes too?

                                2. I got a stack of Saveurs from a friend cleaning out her garage. In the April 2002 issue on page 16 there is an article written by Nicholas O'Connell about digging for razor clams on the Washington coast. This is a traditional family-togetherness activity in the Northwest, and the cleaned-clam bounty is stored in freezer containers to be served up for special visitors. It was a nice article except for one bit of weirdness: "...mullusks holed up in their long, thin, blade-shaped shells (hence one theory for their name) ...".

                                  NO! NO! NO! That bit of misinformation must have been inserted by some editor sitting at her desk in Manhattan who never set foot on the Washington coast. O'Connell must have had a strong visceral reaction when he saw how they butchered his piece. There are two separate clam species - our beloved Pacific razor clam, with an oval shell 4" - 6" long, and then there is a clam by the same name living on Atlantic shores. They are not interchangeable. If you're talking about one, you're not talking about the other.

                                  To increase the misinformation, Saveur included a sidebar with a recipe they called "...this O'Connell family dish...", which has gotta be bogus, because what they describe is a method for preparing and cooking Atlantic razors and would not work for the Pacific ones Mr. O'Connell was digging. Why would the magazine feel the need for attributing a recipe, which they probably pulled out from Saveur's recipe database, to a family which did not provide the recipe?

                                  Then, they say "see page ... 94 for tips on cleaning them and preparing them for frying." Go to page 94 and you see instructions for cleaning the Atlantic clams. These instructions would not work for Pacific clams. This makes as much sense as showing how to clean and cook a Maine lobster for an article on the Pacific spiny lobster.

                                  Saveur has blown its credibility with me.


                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Sharuf

                                    Wow, Sharuf, that's eye opening. I wonder if Saveur was called on this and made corrections in later 2002 magazines? Surely, somebody noticed it when it came out?

                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      I would like to know that too. It would require a trip to the library. Anyone out there keep a supply of back issues?

                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                        I've been searching and prowling over the Saveur website and turned up nothing on razor clams.

                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                          Their archive really does suck the mop, among other gripes about the website. I went looking for the mango sherbet recipe and the search turned up zip (for mango, sherbet and sorbet!), so I went into the next room, pulled out the most recent box of back issues and had it in less than five minutes.

                                          That's a little scary, though, about the clam stories...

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Yep! Journalistic misbehavior, to put it politely.

                                            Will, would you post the mango recipe?

                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                              Don't blame the journalists for the site's broken search engine.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I was blaming the editors for messing up the story, not for anything to do with the website.

                                            2. re: Will Owen

                                              I don't think the search engine is broken. It seems to be imcomplete and inconsistant. The whole website is a mess. I thought it was just me, but a lot of people can't figure it out. I don't bother with it anymore

                                              1. re: sweetie

                                                There are articles in the saveur.com archive that don't turn up when using the site's own search, e.g. the La Tupiña article above (which I found using Google). That's what I mean by "broken."

                                            3. re: Sharuf

                                              The article on digging Washington clams was separate from the article on cleaning clams. The cleaning and preparation article clearly stated that the clams in the pictures were Eastern clams and a different species from the Washington clams. Scientific names for both were given.

                                              1. re: wally

                                                The article on cleaning razor clams was pointed to in the recipe sidebar embedded in the Pacific razor clam article. That was the sidebar providing the alleged "O'Connell family dish", presumably for the very clams one of the O'Connell brothers was pictured digging on the Washington coast.

                                                Anyway, it does not make sense to attach an article about preparing one type of clam to an article about a very different type of clam. Instructions on how to fix and cook this Atlantic clam is of no use to someone on the opposite coast.

                                                I imagine that the magazine didn't want to go to the expense of sending someone from NY to WA to get accurate info to round out the story, but they could have found the info on the internet, or just picked up a phone and called Mr. O'Connell to fill them in instead of bluffing and finessing in a way that displays a lack of concern for their subject matter.


                                                1. re: Sharuf

                                                  The Feb issue with 100 food tips (sources, restaurants, books, tools, etc) is a winner. Overall I find it purer and less precious than Gourmet or F&W. Clearly the best photography.