foodblogosphere

Haters gotta hate...and write, apparently.

This article in Slate is either a perfect example of horrible food writing, or a perfect example of me not getting it. Like other articles I’ve written about, this story has been done to death. Yes, there are frequently long wait times in New York restaurants. Yes, it’s especially bad during Sunday brunch. Yes, this now applies to Brooklyn as well. I mean, I get it, it's in Slate’s A Fine Whine* section, but there’s nothing terribly fine (or interesting, or original) about it. Again I ask the question, “This person got paid actual money to write this?”

But a boring, pointless article isn’t the problem here. This is what the author, Jessica Grose, has to say about food in general:

On a more basic level, I fundamentally don’t care about food. I’m sure there are nontasters who get specific cravings for turkey sandwiches or strawberries. But when I’m hungry, all I want is to replenish my blood sugar, and I don’t give a fig how that happens. In college, my friends used to call me “the goat” because I would eat whatever trash was lying around—including chicken bones, really old pizza, and their scraps. In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers fantasizes about a pill he could take once a day that would meet his nutritional requirements. Dear Dave, if you’re reading this, please manufacture such a pill because I would order a lifetime supply

I’m going to paste the first sentence in here one more time to make sure that I’m not hallucinating.

I fundamentally don’t care about food.

Seriously?

I fundamentally don’t get this. Is there any subset of journalism where people are paid to write about things they have no interest in other than food writing? I can’t imagine a sportswriter who has no interest in sports of any kind being allowed to publish and article proudly declaring their disintrest in the subject, and then complaining about how long the lines are at the stadiums. Can you?

Of course not. But then, sports is a populist pursuit, even though it’s played by millionaires who work for billionaires. New York restaurants–yes, this now applies to Brooklyn as well–are elitist and snobby.

Seriously, though. I’m very critical of restaurants and food, and expect food and restaurant journalism to be more critical than me. But hating the concept of eating isn’t criticism; it’s jackassery. Well paid professional jackassery, apparently.

*Unless you’re one of those types whose happiness is so fragile you can’t bear even a hint of negativity, the articles in A Fine Whine can be pretty good. But this one wasn’t.

If you call someone on it when they're wrong, your own sense of integrity should demand that you admit when they're right.

Which is why I acutally wrote something positive about Chris Christie. Anyway, I talked some shit about John Mariani in a previous post. In the interest of fairness (and linking to an awesome article), I’d like to direct your attention to his predictions for 2012. Some of it’s serious; some of it’s snark for snark’s sake, but there are enough hard truths to make it worth reading. For example:

 Except maybe in Chicago, the overbuilt gastropub scene will die down as people realize it now costs just as much to eat rabbit rillettes from a jar, a pork chop, and two bottles of artisanal beer as to go to a high-end steakhouse and order the porterhouse for two

and:

 At best, the economy won’t completely tank, but it will be sluggish enough to keep restaurants sales flat, with more people dining out far less often and spending a lot less money. Instead of ordering “little plates,” people will order one big plate and share.

 Now, I’ll admit that his prediction that Modernist Cuisine/Molecular Gastronomy/Hoop-Jumping Jackassery will fade into irrelevance may have more to do with his feud with Grant Achatz, but even so, I think he’s on to something. I’ve talked smack about Nathan Myhorvold more times than I care to link to in only because I believe that his cookbook/vanity project to rival Gwynneth Paltrow’s Website did more to fetishize the culinary profession than to advance it. But with the economy getting yet another smackdown this year, I believe that there’s going to be a more stripped-down version of culinary modernism in 2012. More about making what works work, and less about showmanship.

Mariani also predicts that Asian dumplings will be the next big thing. Even though Eddie Huang wants to add soup dumplings to the menu when Baohaus goes national, I’m unconvinced. It’s too much like, “Ramen was big. What goes with ramen. Gyoza!” Remember, dumplings were the first thing over the side when David Chang decided to make Noodle Bar more than just a noodle bar.

Also, I could be wrong.

I think it’s been grim for a long time. One of the reasons is that it’s so easy to become a food journalist. You just declare yourself one. It’s driven down the pay rate to almost nothing. Moreover, the ethical underpinning has eroded the extent that you can’t pick up a piece of food journalism, read it and fully understand where it’s coming from. Unfortunately, with the armies of people calling themselves food journalists, the whole area has become clogged.
The Village Voice in particular; I was marked for death. Why pay expenses and pay a food critic when you can get the same bounce making puffy descriptions of places that open? I’m hoping that once people start treating food as a normal thing and not some source of adulation, we’ll be able to go back to food journalism.
vimeo

This is pretty awesome. 

Whenever I go out to eat, I always want to order the chicken. Chicken is the default entree, what people order when they don’t know what they want to eat. Every chef has to have one on the menu, so I like to see what they’re doing with it. Are they going to go hard and push the envelope, or stick with something safe and comforting, but execute it perfectly every time. Plus, I just love good chicken, and Jonathan Waxman’s looks badass, especially the Italian salsa verde