Cook’s Illustrated, Number 100 (Grade: B)

Cook's Illustrated, Issue 100

Cook's Illustrated, Issue 100

If you like to cook, you must subscribe to this magazine. It is always packed with useful tips and helpful step-by-step instructions. While it will never stir my emotions to a fever pitch, I still find that I learn something new every time I read it. But it’s like a well written text book: no matter its quality, it’s still just a text book.

Content: 58/60

I like the fact that there is so much content here, yet it doesn’t feel crammed in. Although articles are never more than 2 pages and usually include a side bar or two, they remain tightly focused on the topic and convey the right amount of information.

My favorites in this issue are the articles on Steak Tips with Mushroom Gravy, Rethinking Sunday Gravy and the Foolproof Vinaigrette. I skipped over the Secrets to a Perfect Cup of Coffee, Mexican Grilled Corn and discussion on “Green” Skillets, but only because they didn’t interest me. My favorite tip this issue was to not use extra virgin olive oil when cooking, rather stick with the regular stuff since what you pay for in the good stuff – the unique flavors and aromas – dissipate with the heat.

Quality: 17/20

It used to irk me that, within the covers, this is a black and white magazine. It’s not so much an issue, any more, but still rankles me a bit. Would be nice to see what the food is supposed to look like. My other beef is that the writing style is uniformly written in the first person, this grates on my inner blue pencil. This might work if there was only one author throughout the whole magazine, but that’s not the case here.

Food Porn: 8/20

If it wasn’t for the wonderful illustration that they always have on the back cover, this would be a zero. This gets back to the lack of color in the magazine. But even the cover shots, in this case of Swiss Chard, rarely get a rise out of me.

Recipes: 10/10

Yes, yes, yes, I have claimed that recipes are not so important to me. Tell me the how and I’ll figure out the what. But these guys really pull this off well. For example, after a detailed discussion of what it takes to make a good Apple Upside-Down Cake, they offer variants with almonds or lemon and thyme, along with what needs to be adapted in the original recipe. Excellent.

Final Score: 93/110 (B)

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Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 10:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Meatpaper, Issue 8 (Grade: A-)

Meatpaper Issue 8

Meatpaper Issue 8

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: I love Meatpaper! I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning and read every issue cover to cover. The latest edition is another example of high quality writing and excellent photography.

Content: 55/60

There are a few articles here that really made me think. In particular, I enjoyed Heather Smith’s discussion in A Modest Proposal: A Selective History of Telling People What to Eat. This delves into the essence of Don’t Yuck My Yum: How meat eaters and vegetarians feel threatened by each other. Her article on hot dogs is also worth a read.

Meatpaper is not just about the consumption of meat, but rather fleischgeist:

Fleisch•geist (flish’gist’) n. From the German, Fleisch “meat” + Geist “spirit.” Spirit of the meat. From Zeitgeist, “spirit of the times.”

This spirit includes articles on how bulls are enticed into participating in artificial insemination, hunting with eskimos and taxidermy. This issue misses the perfect mark for the article on the shock value of certain food TV shows. I feel the author really stretches to make the facts fit the theory. Oh, and my usual complaint about Meatpaper: It’s too short!

Quality: 18/20

As usual, this is a well crafted publication that is artfully assembled. Given the wide range of styles, this could easily have been garish and jarring. But they pull it off well. My only complaint is the lack of captions on nearly all photos. Sure, I can infer meaning from the accompanying copy, but I’d like some specifics.

Food Porn: 18/20

There is always some seriously good photos in this magazine, but this issue does not have as many good money shots. About the only one is on the end papers. Mmmm, pancetta. The carving up of the whale blubber kind of killed my appetite, though.

Recipes: 0/0

No recipes, but that’s OK. Meatpaper isn’t a cooking magazine.

Final Score: 91/100 (A-)

Published in: on August 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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