Omnivore - Oh, those twembling wabbits

Language and The New Yorker’s food issue

Image Food writing and restaurant criticism come under pretty constant attack these days. I thought the following, lifted from the Facebook page of a well-know food writer himself, was funny:

I have subscribed to The New Yorker for much of my adult life. I have watched with mixed emotions the magazine’s forays into food writing (my own field for the past 29 years). This year’s food issue has an article by Dana Goodyear on Craig Thornton’s underground dinners in L.A., in which she writes about the chef’s rabbit meatballs: “The rabbit still had the whiff of trembly, nervous game.” I doubt very seriously that that rabbit, ground and served with mushrooms and crêpes in a “briny, cool, and sour-sweet concoction made from lobster shell, shallot, vermouth, and tarragon, with a rich zap of lemon-lime curd,” was ever wild, or that, with all those flavors going on, that it had a whiff of rabbit at all, much less game. I don’t know if the sentence is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read or just the most pretentious.

He further writes:

Worse, though, were the short pieces - all of them by people of privilege basically bragging about their lofty status. Even Calvin Trillin’s article had the whiff - no, stench - of station. So many delusions of entitlement throughout the magazine. I’m holding off on reading Mimi Sheraton’s article. I don’t want it sullied by the bad taste left in my mouth by the others.

Kinda harsh. I read Dana Goodyear’s piece and didn’t find it bad, despite the horrid sentence cited above. In the continual search for adjectives, similes, and metaphors to describe food, some weird shit can arise. Think of the critic as lying on Freud’s couch for 50 minutes of word association.

Critics, of course, write from the perspective of “privilege,” no matter how much they argue otherwise. As I’ve written before, critics in any field are writing for one another much of the time.