Thanks for the Memories

Looking back at an early issue, we’re reminded of Gourmet’s extraordinary relationship with food—and of some of the people who brought that to life.
thanks for the memories

When we were putting together the September issue, one of the editors stumbled across this feature, published in December 1963. Far from being a journalistic artifact, it’s just as funny, imaginative, and supremely savvy as it was back then. The byline was intriguing. Who was Margaret Bennett? We turned to contributing editor Caroline Bates, who joined Gourmet in 1958 and became our West Coast restaurant critic in 1974. She has a mind like a steel trap. “Oh, that was a pseudonym,” she said instantly. “A pair of college librarians from California sent that in unsolicited, and they wrote for us for years afterward. Their names were Barbara Toohey and June Biermann.”

Toohey and Biermann’s pieces for Gourmet were the start of a collaboration that has lasted, as it turns out, for 38 years. Their numerous books range from travel (From Baedeker to Worse) to sports (skiing and biking), but they found their true mission in life when Biermann became diabetic in 1967. They began writing about diabetes a couple of years later and have since founded the SugarFree Centers and Prana Publications. “Living the good life with diabetes is possible,” says Toohey. “All you need is a little practical guidance.” Toohey and Biermann live in Van Nuys, California.

And what about the whimsical, offbeat pen-and-ink artwork? It’s by New York City author and artist Sheila Ellen Green, who publishes under the name Sheila Greenwald. “I started doing spots for Gourmet when the offices were in the attic of the Plaza Hotel,” she says. “Boy, those were the days.” Another culinary project, so to speak, was the now-iconic art for Saucepans & the Single Girl, by Jinx Morgan and Judy Perry. First published in 1965, it was reissued 40 years later, still promising “bachelor-bait recipes and dazzling ideas for entertaining” for a whole new generation of chick-lit fans. Green has also written and/or illustrated more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the “Rosy Cole” stories; the 12th book in the series will be published in the spring of 2010.

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