Why I could never be a real food critic

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Firstly, I enjoy writing more than eating. Thus, if reviewing were a job rather than reporting is just my hobby, I think I’d regard it as work not fun. Second, I enjoy trashing places much more than praising them; like the supposed number of words in Inuit for snow, there are so many more negative adjectives to describe food and its preparation than positive ones that it makes writing critical critiques much easier. Third, I don’t like the handcuffs worn by some of my critic friends who, whether consciously or not, address the audience their publication(s) serves, be they tourists, young trend-setters, old geezers or conservative eaters. Fourth, I want to pick the places I go to myself, not be told what places must be covered, for whatever reason. Fifth, I want to be free to write what I want – not be edited to death at 4 PM meetings at HQ. Sixth, I simply could not go to all the broken heart, one heart, ethnic, world-food, sandwich and snacking places Emmanuel Rubin, say, does. Seventh, I cannot stomach bullshit about smoky oaky Chardonnays, limpid liquid sauces and vigorous virtuous meat. Eighth, I can in no way embellish the review of a place serving mediocre food with gushing prose about the oak timbers, lush velvet banquettes and glowing lighting to cover the faults of the food. Ninth, I cannot be objective, I’m totally subjective; what I’m served is what I ate and what I ate is what I report about. What it coulda been, shoulda been, mighta been, is irrelevant. Tenth, as I have said before, I regard wine as an alcohol delivery vehicle and spending energy enthusiastically making it sound like some ambrosia of the gods sickens me. Eleventh, I can’t stand pretension, so the reverse of #8 is that no matter how good the dishes might be, if I’m welcomed or more so, unwelcomed by a snotty head of the room, had my order taken by an imperious know-it-all jerk of a headwaiter and served by a bumbling stumbling wine and water spilling server – the food suffers. Twelfth, I like innovation, the sort that guys such as Ledeuil and Rose do, not over the top “kiwis with catsup” stuff like Choukroun and Aizpitarte do. Lucky thirteenth, I’m so competitive, I can’t stand other reviewers – just kidding, actually they, their company and good, hard-working, solid chefs are what make eating fun. I’m sure there are other, deeper, darker reasons, but that’s a start. Two places I much prefer to go rather than be forced to eat elsewhere on assignment are: Spring 28, rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 9th, (Metro: St Georges or Pigalle) T: 01.45.96.05.72 Open Tuesday-Friday for dinner with one seating at 8:30-9 PM Lunch Thursday and Friday at around 1 PM, seating is very limited (16) Cooking classes and private parties on Saturday afternoons and evenings. Menu du jour 36 € Ze Kitchen Galerie 4, rue des Grands Augustins, 6th (Metro: Saint Michel) T: 01 44 32 00 32 Closed Sundays. A la carte 30 €. ©by John Talbott 2008
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