You publish a lot of very handsome but rather astringent magazines. Clearly, very little emotion or humor escapes your editorial process. Occasionally, I will pick up Fine Homebuilding when I’m considering a fireplace insert or half-round gutters and want just the facts, ma’am. But Fine Gardening? When the flowers themselves are so silly, I find the tone entirely too chilly.
But I did actually once subscribe to one of your publications, Kitchen Gardener. Oh, I loved it!
A piece about planting potatoes wouldn’t stop with how-to. It would discuss varieties and then give recipes for cooking the just-dug, delicious things. I mean, Marcella Hazan-quality simple yet sophisticated recipes! It was the perfect magazine for somebody like me, whose road to gardening ran straight through her stomach, whose garden leads right into the kitchen and up onto the stove.
Try to sell me a story about chartreuse coleus, and I’m out like a light. But "Demystifying Espalier" or "You Say Celeriac, I Say Celery Root"? My God, I am GRIPPED!
But I’m not doing the magazine justice. Kitchen Gardener, it was civilized! Its editors understood that even though we vegetable gardeners are the dirtiest and sweatiest of all gardeners, we get dirty for refined reasons: We love beautiful food. We love company. We love culture, especially when it’s edible.
Apparently, back in 2001, I was kinda eccentric in my interests, because you shut the magazine down before my subscription ran out. I was heartbroken, and I don’t remember getting any compensation, either. But at least you didn’t do what Conde Nast did after shutting down House & Garden … and send me Domino, whose witlessness now pisses me off every single month.
But I don’t think I’m really eccentric any more, though you may have to travel many miles to find somebody as excited about parsnips as me. Not when Burpee reported a 40% rise in sales of vegetable seeds and plants this spring. Not when the New York Times–formerly the paper of clueless urbanites–is writing about root cellars. Not when New York Magazine devotes pages and pages to New Yorkers growing food on their roofs and raising chickens on their penthouse terraces. Not when Fortune profiles oil industry experts who advise that we all start growing food in the backyard.
Kitchen gardening is poised for a powerful revival. It’s always made infinite sense, and in the midst of a financial collapse and energy and climate crisis, it makes triple infinite sense. Even though I am now an experienced old hand at vegetable growing, I still want to hear what the super-expert parsnip growers have to say, and I really want the recipes. Won’t you please bring Kitchen Gardener back?
Michele OwensPosted by Evelyn Hadden on November 7, 2008 at 4:45 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.