Last month we explored the question of what purpose food magazines serve in an age when you can find a recipe for anything you want online. We talked about how last month's issues of Rachael Ray Every Day and Bon Appétit both offered thought-provoking stories confronting some unpleasant but important truths about sexual harassment and pay inequality in the world of professional food.
We're still thinking about that question. And we're actually returning to Bon Appétit this month, because its newest issue stands as an important reminder: Sometimes food magazines can still just be about flat-out good food.
That probably sounds obvious. But the truth is that food mags can sometimes get a little tiresome featuring the hottest chefs and the most seasonal recipes and the latest foodie trends and the niftiest new kitchen gadgets and the hardest-to-find ingredients. (And, let's be honest, Bon App itself can certainly be described that way at times.)
The One Food Magazine You Should Buy in April
So it's refreshing to come across an issue of a food magazine like the April 2018 Bon Appétit that's about just, well, food. If you only pick up one food mag this month, this should be it.
Here's how Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport described the latest issue on Instagram.
"So, last summer at an editorial retreat, we were like, What if we did an issue where the entire feature well is styled like a cookbook (full-page photo opposite a full page of recipe text), and we highlighted all those dishes that we find ourselves cooking over and over again? And, so, a bunch of months later, here we are with our April issue and its cookbooky bordered cover. Hope you dig it."
We do dig it.
Bon App this month turned its entire feature section over to simple recipes and accompanying photos. It feels less like an issue of a magazine and more like a concise cookbook for How To Eat in 2018.
There are some trendy-ish influences here, to be sure. Tahini shows up as a star in two of the 29 dishes — a wedge salad with tahini ranch and a swirled sesame tea cake. There's kimchi in the grains and za'atar in the cucumbers. There's even a recipe for the it-dish of the moment, cauliflower steak.
So yeah, it's a little trendy.
But the whole thing doesn't feel annoyingly trendy at all. It feels fresh and current and essential.
It also reminded us about the conversation we had a couple months ago with Chris Kimball about his approach to cooking in his new magazine Milk Street. He talked with us about how cooking today isn't about fetishizing "ethnic" food — it's about finding inspiring ingredients and preparations around the world and incorporating them back home. That's an apt way to describe this issue of Bon Appétit as well.
Oh, and there's a two-page cheat-sheet at the end of the feature that you'll want to rip out, tape inside your kitchen cabinet, and refer to every time you can't remember which kinds of produce ought to be kept in the fridge, or how to boil a perfect egg.
And wait! We almost forgot the other thing we loved about Bon Appétit this month: In the front of the book there's an essay from Senior Food Editor Andy Baraghani about his struggle to come out as gay, his complicated feelings about his Iranian heritage (especially in the anti-Muslim climate following 9/11), and how his love of food and of cooking helped him figure it all out. It's a beautiful and intensely personal story, and it's well worth a read.
Where to Buy the Issue
Other Magazines We Recommend This Month
The rest of this month's food magazine covers are an almost comical parade of different ways to say Hooray! Winter's over!
"Spring Starts Here," says Woman's Day. "Bring It, Spring!" says Rachael Ray. "Hello, Spring!" "All Set for Spring," "Spring Feasts," and "Spring Sides" (the covers of Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping, and Food Network Magazine, respectively.) Oh, and naturally Food & Wine gives us the "Spring Wine Issue."
Amid that cavalcade of spring, though, there are some standouts.
We especially liked the menu in the newest Martha Stewart Living, in its "Spring Is Served" feature. The savory roasted radish tart looks so different that we're eager to try it. And the magazine's take on a beet and dill roasted wild salmon is absolutely stunning.
Cooking Light wows with "Gorgeous Passover Desserts," including a strawberry, basil, and balsamic "slablova" and an orange almond cake. Even if you don't celebrate Passover, these desserts will be great for any spring occasion.
And Good Housekeeping gives us a little respite from spring dishes with an excellent tutorial on how to make homemade donuts, like blueberry cardamom and choco churro with dulce de leche. Thankfully, there's not a pea, strawberry, or ramp in sight.
What are you planning to cook up for spring?