Monday, September 19, 2011

Ethical Travel and Food Writing ~ update


Following our popular story on unethical travel writing (see story here) we have this timely advice from the highly respected Alison Bing from Lonely Planet.

 Don’t act like a food critic

At New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, I observed a food blogger photographing dishes, taking notes at the table and loudly drawing comparisons to dishes by other chefs. This is a rookie mistake, guaranteeing a strained dining experience for everyone involved. Staff hover over your shoulders, with shaky hands and false cheer – forget getting a straight answer about which dishes are better than others. Dinner conversation is peppered with interruptions, introductions and quasi-interviews, and over-salted with interrogations about why you didn’t finish your garnish … or maybe that’s just the nervous chef, sweating into your food. Reviewing restaurants anonymously for Lonely Planet ensures I get treated like any other customer, which means I occasionally get hot dishes served cold, microwaved until molten or deep-fried twice (ouch) – but it sure beats the awkward alternative. And when that freshly baked moment of joy arrives on a platter, it’s a sincere expression of the cooks’ talent, the farmers’ diligence, your hosts’ generosity and a shared love of food that gathers us around tables, around the world.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A fascinating post...

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Derek said...

I live in Spain, and was a restaurant critic for about eight years. I always paid the bill and never asked for anything free. Only once was I given a free meal, and that was after the crit had been published. At first I would make surreptitious notes, but eventually I would just slap my notepad on the table and write the review as I went along. I never noticed it make the slightest bit of difference to the treatment I had, and the only person who ever asked me what I was doing was a Dutchman, whose restaurant turned out to be one of the worst I've eaten at.

The View from Fez said...

Taking photographs of food in a restaurant is also a tricky thing to do without arousing suspicion! However it is possible.

Getting a free meal is not the point of the exercise!