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'Can't I just say it's tasty?' Why food critics go too far

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s easy to write beautifully if you can work yourself into a frenzy of love or loathing. Unfortunately, most meals are just quite pleasant

I was a restaurant reviewer for 10 years, and then I was let go, as they say. I expected to be distraught because I would miss the money, and also the food. Instead, it was an incredible relief. Reviewing food is fine when you hate a lot of things; it is fine when you stand ready and willing to do an elaborate and caustic hit job on an orange sorbet because you have been either absolutely loving or completely hating relatively benign things since you could talk. It is fine when you have quite a dedicated moral architecture of taste, when you admire good food so much that you can summon real dismay at even its very slight inferior. The problem is not that you run out of words for the best of it, nor that you take no demonic enjoyment from having unearthed the worst.

The problem is the smörgåsbord of food that is just tasty. It’s not an angel dancing on your tongue; it didn’t crack open your understanding of what a vegetable should be, or its meaning in the universe; it wasn’t like an explosion, or an epiphany; it didn’t have the deep, resonating familiarity that brought you so close to the quiddity of a steak that you felt as if you could speak cow just by eating it. It’s just tasty – or quite tasty.

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September 18th 2019, 12:32 pm
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