Gilting the Lily

I am… um… well, a little bit at a loss for words. I’ve just viewed the Beta site for Gilt, the new website/online magazine/food shop by Ruth Reichl and co.

I mean, I guess it’s been done before. Certainly, businesses put out advertorial publications to help sell their products (remember the IKEA magazine?). But this just seems so blatant. A post containing a recipe includes a sidebar full of the over-priced ingredients required to make said recipe. Certainly (hopefully), people will go out and at least buy locally-sourced ingredients instead of buying the stuff from the Gilt website. (Because – $36 for 2 pounds of asparagus? Plus delivery. Are you fucking serious??)

What about that whole idea of keeping editorial content and advertising content separate? It’s one of the basics of journalism. Okay, maybe it’s a different game when you’re writing about the stuff you’re selling. Maybe we need to think of Gilt as just a slicker, better-written online catalogue. But I feel a little cheated. I want lovely food writing for the sake of lovely food writing.

And while the name is obviously supposed to evoke idea of luxury, it becomes farcical when compared to Guilt Taste, which not-so-subtly points out the hypocrisy with faux listings for Ortolan and Chilean sea bass.

As a society, we buy into ideas of luxury every day. And Gilt is definitely selling luxury. It will probably do well. But despite the great writing, I don’t think I’ll be returning. It touches off some emotions (greed, self-pity, anger, frustration) that are too uncomfortable to endure when all I want to do is read some nice food writing without having someone trying to sell me stuff, even if it is really nice stuff.