In the bad old days, restaurant criticism was the province of professionals, learned men and women with highly evolved palates who got paid by (mostly) newspapers to evaluate the food of local eateries without fear or favor, neither seeking nor accepting freebies, relaying their sophisticated judgments to the masses by way of deftly written columns.
Or they were lucky bastards who figured out how to eat like a pig and drink like a fish on some rich publisher's dime, then scribble down what they remembered of it through a fog of fine Bordeaux before moving on to the next victim... er, restaurant.
In the good new days, everybody's a fucking restaurant critic. You.
Your mother. Her best friend. The chick with the plastic boobs. The guy
down the block who hasn't eaten in a place not named "Mc" or "Colonel"
for the past 20 years.
The internet has become the Great
Leveler. Nowadays, anybody with a keyboard, modem, and more balls than
taste buds can call himself a restaurant critic -- rating dishes,
ripping service, criticizing what took years of effort and (often)
millions of dollars to produce because, after all, they had dinner there
once and the sushi was raw. RAW!
It's a goddamned outrage.
there are amateur critics out there who possess abundant food knowledge
and a lively writing style whose opinions on food, wine, and
restaurants both enlighten and entertain, and Charlie appreciates the
hell out of both of you. But for the rest, well, they seem to fall into
one of six general categories. See which one the guy whose blog you were
just reading falls into.
Mr. Authentic. Nothing is ever
culturally rigorous enough for this dillweed. If he got a tamal
handmade by a Oaxacan abuelita in a street stall, he'd complain
she didn't grow the corn for the masa. He's less concerned with whether
the food tastes good than whether he can convince anyone that he knows what
he's talking about.
Little Miss Wonderful. This chirpy
food blogger never met a comped meal that wasn't sooo wonderful.
She and her BFFs descend on this week's hot new restaurant like
vultures, snapping blurry photos of one another doing their best Paris
Hilton imitations. And if the hunky celebrity chef copped a feel during
the group shot, well, that's sooo wonderful too.
Bob. Bob has issues. Maybe his parents didn't buy him a pony
for Christmas; maybe he once fell headfirst into a vat of sauerkraut.
Who knows? But everyone else who writes about restaurants is an idiot or
a liar or a crook or the hellspawn of Ronald McDonald and Rachael Ray
and don't you forget it! Hose him down before he hurts somebody.
McCheapskate. This particular species of food writer has somehow
convinced himself that all restaurant food ought to be free. Or at least
a whole lot cheaper than what it actually costs. No meal is too
delicious, no restaurant too delightful not to be dismissed with a
single epithet: "Overpriced." He probably reuses his toilet paper.
Shole. You know the guy who scatters waiters like sheep before a
hungry wolf the minute he walks into a restaurant? That's him. He lives
to complain about everything, to make the staff miserable, then rant
about how terribly he's been treated. He hasn't realized his waiter
always puts a little something extra into his food.
Homie. Why does this person even go to restaurants? Everything they
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serve he can do better, cheaper, and healthier at home. He sneers at
fools who pay a no-talent schlumpf like Thomas Keller to create a
12-course feast when they could go to his house and eat 18 courses of
exquisitely prepared French cuisine. As soon as he learns how to cook.