Bon Appetit has muffin top(and not the good kind)….

Photo from Bon Appetit.com

You’ve heard it before and I will say it to you now, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Case in point, the muffin top. The once delicious part of an actual muffin, the term has now come to (according to Wikipedia) “describe the phenomenon of overhanging flesh when it spills over the waistline of trousers or skirt in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing. This generally occurs when an individual wears low-rise, hip-hugger pants, or midriff-baring tops that are too small.” Meaning just because you can squeeze yourself into a size 8 pair of jeans, if your ass is a size 12, it ain’t going to look pretty.
Bon Appetit has made their own muffin top as of late. Whoever they have chosen as their photographer is going in a direction that, though he/she can, they really shouldn’t. Let us use this month’s cover as our first example. When I took that out of the mailbox I just stared at it. My first thought was, why is there poorly lit dog food on the cover. Yes, that was my real thought. For my dog, yes, CCS, has food that comes in a can that looks better than that. Why make shit brown stew, put it in copper pot, with harsh lighting and harsh shadows? What was even worse were the photos that went along with that segment. A close up of the stew (which probably is tasty but I wont be trying it) that made it look worse than the cover, and the most craptastic picture of macaroni and cheese I had ever seen. I love macaroni and cheese and this picture made me want to not eat it ever again, I find that sad. I am sure it serves some sort of great photographic purpose, I just don’t get that purpose, and more importantly I don’t want to eat that purpose.

Photo from Bon Appetit.com

And then there is the suspending of food. Though I think the idea of food being able to fly up to my mouth appealing as it saves me energy from lifting utensils, I don’t really find it appealing in any other sense. I think the photograph as a photograph is neat. However, I am suppose to want to eat this? And showcasing it how you are doesn’t say eat me. It says how the fuck am I going to eat that when it is in the air like that?
I have had a subscription to Bon Appetit since I was a sophomore in college. I used to look forward to getting the magazine in the mail. Now to be honest, it hardly gets read. I skim through it when it first comes in. But since nothing good seems to grab my attention, I seldom go back to actually read it. And I used to read it cover to cover. But now that cover to cover is mostly thin. Filled with ads, though the ads have better pictures than most of the stuff in the magazine now a days, I don’t want a magazine full of ads. My subscription is coming up for renewal and for the first time in 16 years, I will not be renewing my subscription. Maybe I am becoming old and this does really appeal to a younger generation, who knows, all I know is that it doesn’t appeal to me.
So Bon Appetit, I encourage you to find some new talent, there is a lot out there. Just check out the numerous food bloggers who take pictures, Bea and Aran alone should be in your magazine, along with many, many others. Please go back to taking pictures of food that looks like food people eat.

Peabody (your former subscriber)

Comments

  1. I rarely pick it up–as I don’t really enjoy the writing and (as you’ve noted) the photos can be pretty unappetising.

    The suspended one looks like they’ve forced artism into the composition and are trying to evoke Dali’s Persistence of Memory but instead knocked the cake over.

    j

  2. Pretty strong language but I totally agree with you. I don’t mind the s— brown stew but that floating thing is ridiculous.

  3. I thought I was the only one that wasn’t getting the gimmicky shots of late. The photo’s purposes should be to make the food look appealing. That’s the only statement that I as a subscriber appreciate.

  4. Thank you for not making me feel all alone in thinking the photography lately has been weird. I thought the cover was unappealing, but I figured beef stew was hard to photograph. And the flying food photos are creepy and starting to annoy me. Like last month and all those flying hamburgers. It reminded me of something McDonalds would do in the back room to show employees how to assemble them. But the hamburger on the cover looked much more appetizing.

    Now I have to go find my magazine so I can look for the mac and cheese photo. I’m not sure how I missed it.

  5. Hi

    I made that dish on the cover on Bon Appetit, the Texas Brisket. It came out very tasty, but took so long to make. I had the same reaction when I pulled the magazine out of the mailbox, I just starred at it and thought, who puts food in a pail? That’s not going to make people want to make this dish. It wasn’t the photo that made me make this dish it was the use of ancho chilles that had me intrigued. It has to be the worst picture I’ve ever seen on a food magazine cover. I love Bon Appetit regardless of that error in judgement. :)

  6. I don’t subscribe to BA. Nor do I subscribe to their “new look”. It looks like ass, really. And the font and the coloring of the letters and all of the junk they’ve been tinkering with. So put on!

    That’s why I like my bloggy pals. They keep it real and they keep it DEELISH. I’m so glad you and I reserve our cuss words for a lot of the same things :)

  7. This is fantastic! I walked by the recipe holder in my kitchen where I stuff my new foodie magazines, this morning & thought the same thing, “this cover looks like crap, who took this photo?” I just got invited to be on some panel with them as well (just today) to voice my opinion and to share my thoughts & cooking … I was going to send a note about the cover! I will have to show them your post! Brilliant writing peabody!

  8. Peabody, have you tried Cuisine at home magazine? They have wonderful recipes and photographs. I like them much more than BA.

  9. Sarah, yes, I subscribe to that magazine. It is my favorite. That and Taste of the South.

  10. I totally agree with the new style of photography with harsh lighting and the overall design of Bon Appetit. It’s all gone way down hill since they changed the look of the magazine a year or so ago. I’m seriously considering cancelling. My favorite magazine right now is Fine Cooking. You should check it out.

  11. I am sad to say that my subscription will not be renewed this year either, nor will my mother-in-laws.
    When Bon Appetit used to hit my mailbox, I would curl up with a cup of tea and read it cover to cover. It was like having a chat with an old friend.
    Sorry friend, this friendship has grown stale and you do not add to my culinary life in any meaningful way.

  12. At first glance, that pot of stew looks like someone filled a trash can with stew, horrible. I actually liked the floating food in a past issue on an article about new innovative ways to make hamburger. But it would suck if they did that for every issue, with the hamburgers it was cool, because it accompanied well the intention of the article, but that’s it… i don’t want to see floating pies on every issue.

  13. Meadow McKinley says:

    LOL!! I have to share this… not but just an hour ago I sat down and read my first every Bon Appetit! I then thought..I wonder what Peabody is up to…and WhaLA!

    I had the exact same thoughts as you…WTF is this? Texas Chili? HUH? Highly disappointed…and the recipes that were in there that I want to try don’t have a corresponding picture… I have a few mags that I read from front to back, bookmarking places I have stopped or tearing out recipes to try. It would be sad if this is my first and last subscription, we will have to see!

    Nice to know there is a Foodie connection out there..

    **my Texas Chili looks much more appetizing

  14. I picked this up to read on vacation and said the very same thing to my husband. Did you catch the creepily dramatic black and white portraits of the chefs they were awarding? I looked at the Bobby Flay picture and my thought was, is this some sort of parody where they’re mocking him because this surely is a joke.
    Glad to hear others share my opinion.

    p.s.-keep up the good work Peabody! This is my go-to food blog and I’m never disappointed.

  15. You make a good point about the photography. What is funny, though, is that my husband and I were just saying that the past few months the recipes are things we would want to cook (pictures notwithstanding). Before, the recipes in Gourmet and Bon Appetit were so complicated and not suited for our fast-paced lives. Now they’re a little more time friendly.

    I completely agree with you on the photography point and I’m sorry you don’t find the magazines gratifing anymore.

  16. Okay, okay. I’ll be the fat head on the block on this one. I LOVE it when people get all flustered over changes in their favorite magazines. Hell, my favorite part of reading Gourmet now is all the bitching that goes on about wrecking a great magazine. I remember being so sad when Martha was thrown in the slammer and all the gorgeousness went out the window and the advertisements seemed to be “first come, first serve, and the uglier the better.” I agree with the interesting change in the photos in BA — especially when if I shoot photos like that, I don’t post the recipe. BUT — I have been trying to discontinue my subscription for nearly a year now. They keep threatening to cut me off and keep sending it. I decided to stop mine because there’s enough material available on line now, and I can’t see wasting the trees anymore.

    I AM, however, currently making that can of shitty brown dog food for our dinner this evening. Hahahahaha! Seriously. I’ll try to do the photos justice. Kay?

    I just love it when you let it rip.

  17. My letter to the editor:
    When I first glanced at the cover of this magazine I asked myself “Yuck! Why is there a picture of dog food on the cover”? I rechecked for the “bon appetit” magazine title and was horrified to see that yes, this was correct. I don’t think the photographer (Hans Gissinger) could have made this recipe any less appealing. In fact, the majority of the photographs in this issue are rather dark and dreary, conpletely lacking any anticipatory mouth watering reaction. The “vegetarian feast” hardly strikes me as colorful or healthful, but rather dark, ashy, without any life and not worth the trouble of preparing. Where are all the glowing, vibrant autumnal colors? Even the pic of the tree on page 127 which is described as a “stunning shade of orange” is flat, dull and lifeless. The holiday season is gearing up and you’d never guess it from these articles. All in all a very disappointing issue. I had hoped for better from you. Please consider a different stylistic approach in future issues that make your readers actually salivate and want to prepare these recipes.

  18. Unfortunately, I’m a huge fan of the new changes taking place at Bon Appétit. While I haven’t been a reader for 20 years (hell, I was 4 y/o 20 years ago), I’ve been keeping up with the articles/recipes for the the last few years. I’ve seen the magazine through the recent upgrade (yes, I did say upgrade) and I can’t help but love all the risks they are taking with the photography and even some of the writing. One thing’s for sure, regardless of the aesthetic transformation, the recipes are still tried-and-true, and the content- still interesting and educational. The cover does not scream “dog food in a can to me”, but a delicious comforting stew in a chic/vintage hammered copper pot (because if you’re a kitchen wiz, you know that copper’s ideal for cooking). While the magazine is definitely for the looking, it’s also service oriented. You read Bon Appétit because you want to know what the latest food trends are and want to experiment with the recipes… and for someone who subscribes to “all of them”, I’d say that I always get the best results from Bon App. Even if it means throwing my cranberry bread pudding in the air. Or maybe I’m just part of the “generation” that doesn’t quite get why food has to look gussied up with faux garnishes, surrounded by ostentatious tableware/decor.

    PS: Not sure if you all have been keeping up with the current publishing madness but I’m guessing all the advertisements are pretty crucial in keeping these magazines in business. But I guess if you want a zine with fewer ads, they give out these free zines at my local bookstore with cat food articles and overzealous religious rants. Email me and I’ll let ya know where to find them. Just a thought.

  19. I thought I was the only one who thought this. They switched food designers and photographers or something. I totally agree with you that their photographs are horrible. Yuck! It’s almost like they want to turn you off from buying their magazine. Thanks for saying something!

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  1. [...] A few months ago, I counted five different fonts on one page alone, and finally gave up.  And, I’m not alone in my disappointment over the changes in a much-loved magazine. I really appreciate the magazine trying to keep things fresh and interesting, but I think they [...]

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