Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Uncritical Critic

I understand that the above wasn’t really a restaurant review. More like a restaurant fawning. And no, they didn’t put me up to it. I just really like food and find it hard to think or write critically about it.

I have the same issue with travel writing--I like most places, and the few destinations I haven’t cared for particularly I have at least found interesting anthropologically. I would never want to be responsible for giving a city a star rating, or writing about how a new museum is superficially entertaining, but derivative and decorated in last year’s colors.

Luckily, nobody expects travel writers to make value judgments about how good or bad a place is. Everyone likes a good travel disaster story, but nobody wants you to end it by concluding that it happened because the country is a half-baked mess that should be avoided at all costs. (Even if the disaster involved food poisoning.) It’s an interesting distinction between travel writing and food writing, two disciplines that otherwise have a lot of overlap.

So I went to Napa and I ate well and I didn’t spend a second worrying about whether or not there was any possible way the meal could have been better or more stylish. And in writing, I didn’t worry too much about whether or not anyone else would agree with me. I’ll let you all draw your own conclusions about whether or not Terra sounds good.

(But oh, my God, just go because now that I’ve thought about it, no, there isn’t any way dinner could have been better.)

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