In Defense of Paris Food Bloggers

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In Defense of Paris Food Bloggers
Recently, several posters on a well-regarded food website have chimed in about a post stating that “bloggers are destroying the Paris dining scene” and have the following complaints: -bloggers are treated specially by chefs, -they then in turn give those restaurants good reviews, -they are served dishes that aren’t on the menu, -they “make a table more difficult to get,” -they “all flock to the new places and write rave reviews of them (as long as they’re inexpensive, that is) until it becomes impossible to tell what is good,” -they don’t “credit their sources.” The post ended with the a plea that bloggers “report honestly on the food.” I’m game to reply to these charges, one by one. First, the generalization that bloggers are destroying the Paris dining scene. My, oh my. Such power from folks who are not paid, who aren’t comp’d, and who aren’t recognized until subsequent visits. Second, they are treated specially by chefs. Really? If the chefs don’t know who they are (as compared to the media “big boys”  whose photos are posted in the kitchen) or even if they do, as Patricia Wells was recognized by a “hot chef” in town the other night, do they run right out and get special, expensive products just to impress them? Third, they are served dishes that aren’t on the menu.  Amazing; the only time I’ve seen such a thing is with vegetarians or folks who prefer a green salad to a “regular” first course; my granddaughters, for example, who the chefs certainly don’t know, but for whom they produced salami, pasta and chocolate mousse that were nowhere on the menu. Indeed, it’s usually the bloggers’ readers who get bent out of shape if something mentioned in a review isn’t available. Fourth, once reviewed positively, places are harder to get into. This as opposed to a good review in the New York Times, say? Is that to say that bloggers have more influence than the ten “big boys ,” that is, the print-media reviewers? Fifth, bloggers all flock to the same places and write good reviews and essentially dumb down good food. Flock?, guilty indeed; write only good reviews?, someone doesn’t read all their reviews terribly carefully; dumb down the food?, my goodness, again they must be very powerful. Sixth, not crediting sources. Hummmh. Sources such as the very website this was posted on, or announcements in Figaroscope about what will open soon, or Lesrestos.com’s advance notices, or their flanneur/moto-enabled food friends who report on new openings? Now, how about the plea to report honestly. To partly repeat myself: 99% of bloggers pay their own way, are not salaried in the food business, do not declare anything comp’d (which sometimes happens on visits subsequent to the initial one that constituted the basis for their review), admit to either too negative or too positive a review in subsequent reviews and because they are beholden to no advertiser, employer, big print-media critic, syndicate, backer(s) or chef tend to be most scrupulous in their reviews, telling it like it is to their loyal readers, to whom they are beholden. I might add that bloggers also do not hide behind screen names, but do stick their necks out with every review and do sacrifice their bodies going to ten places before hitting one real winner. ©by John Talbott 2010 If you’re coming to France (or for that matter anywhere) you can reserve your hotel here. To rent a car, Bonjour Paris recommends Auto Europe.
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