Back when we subscribed, we daydreamed about the perfect life depicted in those features. We eyed the Smoked Trout with Cucumber-Watercress Cream and thought that maybe if we made it often enough, we could conjure an airy loft or movie star friends. As we became older and wiser, or at least more cynical, the pieces annoyed us with their unattainable standards and fluffy content. When one article featured—we swear to Alice Waters—a group of friends using their to get to a favorite picnic spot, we threw the issue across the room and canceled our subscription.

Photos by Melissa Schneider