Yesterday, I came across two essays about the self-indulgent language that I and my species ― I'm talking food writers here ― are as drawn to as we are to lardo and feculent-smelling French cheese. Overwriting is hardly a new flaw among our kind. Have you read restaurant reviews from the 1970s? There were an awful lot of bad M.F.K. Fisher imitators who thought that describing bordelaise sauce in 19th-century prose proved their sophistication. Too
many essays read as if they were written with giant peacock-feather quills
dipped in glittery mauve ink.
Contemporary food writing has its own excesses. On Slate, Noreen Malone appears to be the only food writer in
America thrilled to see the end of legendary Spanish restaurant El
Bulli, for years the most sought-after reservation on the planet. Not
because she's bitter she never got to go, but because its closing
signals the extinction of the "I Ate at El Bulli" Piece, or IAAEBP. Larding her essay with a couple dozen links, she cuts through the
self-congratulation and artsy-ness to show just how cliched and
competitive the IAAEBP has become: Look at me going to El Bulli for a staff meal! Look at me eating a meal Ferran Adria cooked for me! Malone's article almost makes me wish I'd eaten
there and never told a soul. (Actually, I just wish I could have eaten
Responding to the outrage over A.A. Gill's searing Vanity Fair review of L'Ami Louis in Paris, Good's food editor, Nicola Twilley, clucks her tongue and gives Americans a lesson in just how visceral British restaurant critics can be.
from the alt-weekly school of restaurant criticism, which is
ever-so-slightly more prim then mainstream British newspapers, I say, if a room does smell like "fetid bladder damp" (thanks, Mr. Gill), why
censor the vivid image? But "chicken in barf sauce with mouse-tasting potato
croquettes" (courtesy of Giles Coren) is neither descriptive nor
instructive. It's swinging your dick around in the hope centrifugal
force will give it a couple millimeters more length.