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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Restaurant Critic Files the Ultimate in Challenging Reviews: Life on Food Stamps

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Our favorite morsel from the Web.

Is Ed Murrieta's story the kind of ultimate indignity that gives a face to America's new poverty? Murrieta's a food writer and restaurant critic who can't find work (including, apparently, at SF Weekly, where he seems to have applied for the job of food critic). So Murrieta has turned to food stamps for survival. The irony is delicious, but not in a way that makes anyone feel good: A guy who spent four years at the Tacoma News Tribune in Washington, judging the tastiness of terrines and fish stews, presumably, now turning food-bank canned pork into something he calls "rillettes." (Though we've never met, Murrieta and I have an oblique connection: From 2002-2004, he wrote a baking column and food features for my old employer, the Contra Costa Times, under ex-food editor Nick Boer.) It's more than a story about the Great Recession, of course. It also illustrates the plight of the professional restaurant critic in the era of the dailies' decline, and of the Yelper's ascendance. Is Murrieta a tragic figure, or is there a measure of schadenfreude about the plight of someone who did a job sometimes scorned as the ultimate exercise in elitism?

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