Monday, May 30, 2011

What’s even worse than Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover of Bon Appétit?

Here I go again with inflammatory post titles. But I just had to add a note or two to my last post about the new Bon Appétit. Before I answer that question – one last thing about Gwynnie -

I’m really trying not to be a GP hater just because she’s perfect. (And, actually, we know she’s NOT perfect, since her bones, although shapely, are brittle.) But let’s be honest – she’s an excellent actress, she’s beautiful (really, we can’t hold that against her), she seems to have a lovely family even if her children are somewhat oddly-named, AND, for whatever reason, there are lots of folks who want to know what she thinks about stuff – whether its diet, exercise or what handbag to buy.

I certainly don’t need to follow her world view (whatever that is) to get on with my life, but I choose more to ignore her than vilify her. In the case of her mug on the cover of Bon Appétit, it’s Bon Appétit who should be criticized. It’s as simple as this. We don’t want no celebrities on the cover. We want food, glorious food.

But there’s something that exasperates me even more than a non-food item on the cover. I’ve noticed this with House Beautiful too and I will not be renewing my subscription because of it, which I only got in the first place as a bonus to the FN Magazine and because Ina’s recipes were featured each month.

So what is the thing that gets me (really mad) about the new Bon Appétit?

When they put a headline on the cover (in that lackluster lettering and design that I spoke of before) AND there’s no page number with it and the table of contents doesn’t list anything resembling that story on the inside.

Here’s an example on Gwynnie’s cover:

“The Crispiest Chicken Ever!” Yeah! I want to know how to do that, especially since I just came back from the south. Tell me!

I go inside and read the ENTIRE table of contents, BOTH PAGES, THREE TIMES!!! Nothing! Then I think, okay, what story COULD it be in?

How about “Let’s take it outside!” about summer cooking? Nope, there’s something about embracing laziness and a picture with lots of kids.

How about in the Father’s Day feature? The table of contents just says there’s a dish that “looms large” in the author’s memory. Maybe the recipe is hiding there. NO! That’s about PORK CHOPS...with more pictures of kids.

OMG! This is getting annoying. The Seasonal Cook? No, that’s a strawberry story.

The Challenge? Nope, sriracha.

OH! Maybe HERE. The Party. No, no, no. That’s about grilled friggin’ lamb. This is seriously ridiculous.

WAIT! I’m SO dumb. I’ll check the recipe index in the back. Gosh, the print is small.

Let me get my glasses. Not good enough. Hold on! I need my magnifying glass.

Gosh, I really can’t make anything out. I have to call my next door 12 year old neighbor, Tommy, to come and read this for me. Tell me, Tommy! Is there a recipe for fried chicken in the index?!!

Chicken salad. That’s definitely not it.

Grilled chicken with PEACH barbecue sauce? Let’s look at that. Can you make out the page number? Oh, it’s a Gwynnie recipe and she’s using boneless, SKINLESS chicken breasts (of course, she is), so it’s not that.

The last chicken recipe, according to Tommy is “perfect pan roasted chicken thighs”. That really CANNOT be what they’re talking about, could it?!!

They say to cook it in a cast iron pan skin side down. (That’s revolutionary. NOT!) and the skin gets as crisp as bacon. You have to be kidding me!!!

They tout the crispest chicken in the universe on the cover and then they stick it a Fast, Easy Fresh feature which, in the table of contents, they describe as “Simple summer recipes from the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen”.

I thanked Tommy and tried to get him out of the house as quickly as possible, before I bedamned and blasphemed Bon Appétit‘s name.

Here is my message to Adam Rapoport:

Skip the celebs on the cover and concentrate on designing a cover that tells the reader WHERE the stories are.

Page numbers would help and the actual words in the table of contents that MATCH the cover would be an obvious solution. In fact, I know a 12 year old with enough common sense to organize that for you really easily and he wouldn’t even need supersonic reading glasses to do it.


Sheila said...

I thought the same thing! Andy even commented on the cover saying, "Ooo! I want to see the crispy chicken recipe!" How irritating!

I miss their big menus they put together also.

I had let my subscription expire but then in a moment of weakness re-upped it and this was my first issue.


Tracy said...

Amen to all that. And they wonder why food magazines are folding.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't looked at this issue (other than the cover) until yesterday. It took me maybe 15 minutes to get through it -- virtually nothing I wanted to read. Sadly, the can't-read-it-even-with-reading-glasses is nothing new with BA (mostly Andrew Knowlton's stuff, which mostly wasn't worth reading anyway ;-) )