Food Critic Malpractice: the Crime of Errors by Omission, Not Commission

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Food Critic Malpractice: the Crime of Errors by Omission, Not Commission

I’ve ranted and raved recently about a lot of web and critic behavior and this is one more example of my colère. Donc, treat it as such.

In addition to my incomprehension about why critics (save Francois Simon in his Hache Menu) can’t give the true prices they paid for meals, why don’t they and their guidebooks tell you how many years it’s been since they visited (save Lebey) and why they don’t report what they were comp’d? With the exception of the New York Times and the Figaro folks, who pay for every dinner mint on the newspaper’s dime, I’m baffled why journalists hold back when it comes to writing negative reviews.

As a person trained in medicine, I know that malpractice has resulted in the loss of patients’ lives, limbs and happiness as well as the ruination of physicians’ lives unjustly charged (ref: Sara C. Charles, Adverse Events, Stress, and Litigation: A Physician’s Guide). I know we need such a system in place.

Culinary reporting errors/omissions are hardly in the same league, but they’re worth referencing. A mistaken amount of flour in a cake recipe is a disaster, a faulty reporting of days opened and closed of a resto results in scrambling for Plan B, but suppressing a bad review, whether by the author, editor or publisher is akin to withholding data on a negative pharmacological study.

Our readers expect honesty, accuracy and full disclosure. And they should. I realize the world I envision is not the world of Gordon Gekko; I understand why writers for publications that depend on advertising from wine merchants, readership of one demographic or another (from the Bobo to Geezer pops) and people who want to be liked suppress bad reviews because of one thing or another. But (sputter), but, but…

In medical science there are errors of commission and omission and each can have equally disastrous results; for instance, missing George Gershwin’s brain tumor was/is just as serious as cutting off the wrong gangrenous leg. Again, culinary criticism doesn’t rise to this level of severity of result.

But, to me, there’s nothing worse than a friend to whom I’ve given advice on where to eat reporting that his/her meals at places I consider infra dig were wonderful and not mentioning any of my recs except a friend reporting that I was really too generous about a place because it was horrible from start to finish.

I report on every meal I’ve had out in Paris (let’s hear the huzzahs out there) and only hold back on my own or Colette’s cooking. I know it’s the old Emersonian “foolish consistency…of little minds,” but my conscience is clear. If people disagree so be it, and I wish everyone could pump out good, honest meals like the places listed below.

Aux Deux Amis

45 rue Oberkampf in the 11th (Metro: Oberkampf)

Closed Sundays (for now) and Mondays

Lunch menu at 19.50 E

Le Bistrot Lou

33, rue Georges-Pitard in the 15th, (Metro: Plaisance)

T: 01.45.33.58.47

Closed Sundays

Menu-carte for 15.90 E

La Gauloise

59 ave de la Motte Picquet in the 15th, (Metro: la Motte Picquet)

Tele immaterial: no rez’s

Lunch menu at 22 (2 courses) and 28 E (3)

Open 7/7

©by John Talbott 2010

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