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Sep 20, 2007 10:28 AM

Saveur: downhill?

I was defending the post-Colman-Andrews Saveur, but the Steak issue is just lame--mediocre writers, tame subjects, lazy research, rambling and downright boring articles, even the photographs seems to have lost their flair.

If they don't turn things around we might not renew.

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  1. I havent seen the steak issue - but I bought the Avocado Cover issue which contained fascinating articles on the Cuisine of the Russian Far East and South East Asian Immigrants of the Central valley.

    Any specific examples of what you claim?

    11 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      There's a long and tedious article about eating crap while hiking the Pacific Coast Trail.

      The article on southern Thailand was very shallow compared with previous travel features.

      The cattle-ranch photo spread looks like a Ralph Lauren ad.

      Basically I feel like it used to be the New Yorker of food, and now it's the Atlantic (not to slight Corby Cummer, who's a great food writer).

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        well, sounds like a miss issue.

        lol - "...eating crap..."

        Can you reccomend me any better food culture/history mags?

        1. re: kare_raisu

          Slow, the official international publication of Slow Food International, is a beautifully produced volume, along with it's partnered U.S. publication by Slow Food U.S., with the caveat that I thought it spent a bit too much time talking about the organization itself. (I've since let my membership expire for that reason alone...)

          Very wide ranging and always provocative is Gastronomica, which explores the intersection between food, culture, and art. Excellent publication. Rather than subscribe to it, though, I instead purchase whole volumes of back issues when they become available.

          Both of these titles are not as mainstream as Saveur, but then again it's hard to call Saveur mainstream too given it's more limited distribution than some of the other foodie magazines.

          All of these publications have quite different "personalities" and therefore one never really quite substitutes for the others, but they're somewhat in the same genre of "writing-driven" foodie magazines.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          That hiking story was really lame. All about a guy who felt restless, so he ditched his wife and newborn for the summers to hike and eat convenience store food.

        3. re: kare_raisu

          I renewed my subscription after I got the avocado isse because the stuffed clam recipe i got in it has been such a huge hit in my house this summer. I enjoyed it. It's a lot less expensive than the other foodie rags I get so no loss if it's not stellar.

          1. re: southernitalian

            The Avacado Issue's cover claimed to list "New England's Best Clam Shacks" and it turned out the author only visited Rhode Island!! Sure there are great ones there, but there are better ones in MA (IMO) and some great ones in Maine and NH.

            An example of Robert's "lazy research" comment.

            Also, no letters to the editor to complain about it.

            I agree that it has gone downhill. Still not nearly as bad as Gourmet where you cannot distinguish the magazine copy from the ad copy.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              Misleading cover teasers are annoying but usually have nothing to do with the author--they may not even come from the editorial department. In this case, the table of contents and article made it clear the article was about Rhode Island.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                that's true, but it is still annoying and a common occurence these days in not just Saveur, but most of the food mags. One frequently has to search the contents/interior to figure out what article they're referring to in the cover tease. The Rhode Island/New England was one of the more obvious and annoying ones recently, but not unusual.

                1. re: chazzerking

                  It's a problem with all sorts of magazines.

                  Cover teasers are often written by publishers, who sometimes care more about maximizing newsstand sales than about describing the contents accurately. More generally, publishers often care more about advertisers than about readers.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I've been a magazine editor for 20 years and I have never once worked anywhere where the publisher wrote coverlines. They are always written by the editors (and usually high ranking editors). Publishers deal with ads and marketing, editors deal with copy, and the cover is considered an editorial page.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  An example of poor editing, then.

                  Plus the article wasn't that great anyway.

          2. My new October issue arrived today, it is all about Chicago and has me making Shrimp de Jonghe tonight. I ended up going to Epi. for a recipe and I have not yet finished reading through it but so far no complaints.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              This Chicago issue has me hungry and ready to search out some items I had no clue about. Got to make that trek north real soon.

              1. re: Candy

                I grew up in Chicago and almost had to wipe up drool when I saw Chicago-style deep dish pizza on the cover, but maybe I am biased, but not ONE recipe for deep-dish pizza???? I was SO upset.

                Also, while the coverage was good for Chicago - I felt a bit like certain features were trying too hard.

                Overall a good issue and made up for the more lackluster issues, but I was somehow left hungry - not satisfied - after reading the issue cover to cover.

                (online ordering Lou Malnati's on dry ice out of desperation)

                  1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                    I have almost finished reading the Chicago issue and have mixed feelings about it.

                    My family has lived in Chicago for 30 years. I love Chicago. But I am not sure I love a magazine that devoted 95% of its copy to Chicago.

                    I also thought some of the articles were a bit overdone and some (the tomato gravy one, eg) didn't add much.

                    I was also surprised at no recipe for the pizza!

              2. I am a long time subscriber to Saveur, but have been disappointed overall in the last few issues. Too many glitzy luxury car and watch ads, not enough substance. It is starting to look like Gourmet. This is not a compliment.

                1. Besides the great photos, Saveur has struck me as uneven at times but nothing major, nothing more fluffy and pretentious then any other mainstream mag. They've always sort of dotted around and some of it has always some gimmicky/odd stuff but that's the nature of the beast.

                  Example: the Saveur 100 is one of the most annoying lists (and it's been around) because of the written descriptions (pretentious, faux spunkiness/hipness and a odd sense of logic) and yet on the whole Saveur does uncover some great stuff. The Hmong farmers in CA's Central Valley was great as many of their trips aboard are. The Chicago issues looks good too.

                  Nothing is perfect and what magazine cranks out 12 issues of greatness every year -- food or not? Any way, it is what it porn.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ML8000

                    We'll see if this is more than just regular ups and downs. I've never read an issue that had as little of interest as the steak one.

                    Any significant changes due to Colman Andrews's departure (or that sparked that departure) would appear gradually. He left at the end of July last year, at which time the editors would have finished or mostly finished with their work on the November or December issue. Lots of features would have been assigned and in the pipeline.

                    There's some continuity in the editorial department staff, but a lot of new names on the masthead.

                  2. I go back and forth with Saveur. I had a subscription with them in the beginning, and after a couple of years I discontinued it, as I never actually made any of the recipes. I do find many of their articles interesting, but the recipes rarely inspire me to start cooking.

                    Having said that, earlier this year I was inspired to make two recipes from Saveur: the lemon meringue tart and the buckwheat crepes. The tart turned out fabulously--great presentation value too--while the crepes looked, and tasted, like sludge. Now that it's fall and I can cook again, I'm going to re-try the crepes (because I'm persistent that way.)


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                      Saveur's recipes aren't tested well enough. That's been a problem all along.

                      One of the few interesting items in the steak issue was the mussels roasted in a pile of dry pine needles.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Hmm. Not sure how I'd feel about mussels that taste like a Christmas tree.

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          Piney mussels? Hmm, I don't know about that.

                          And yeah, I just read the latest issue of Saveur while in line at WF (long lines, as everyone seemed to be shopping at 9pm), and I agree it's not so fabulous.

                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                            Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was the only one who mentally went "Blech" at the thought of pine-scented and flavored mussels.

                            1. re: flourgirl

                              Eclade de moules, mussels roasted in smoldering pine needles, is a specialty of the Charente-Maritime, and is incredibly delicious.