GQ review of restaurants post-Katrina
- monkeyrotica Nov 9, 2006 04:15 PM
He had me until he described the Central Grocery muffaletta as "merely a good sandwich."
Would not want to be the person who has to sleep with this guy.
He enjoys as many things as he doesn't but his higher calling seems to be to dish the city. Maybe he was born on the wrong side of the bed.
"I’ve never had much luck eating in New Orleans. I might be the only person who disliked Uglesich’s, a beloved seafood joint where I once stood in line for an hour in wretched early October heat for a po’boy containing a miserly quantity of oysters so overcooked they were like marbles."
Perhaps they were prejudiced against his moussed hair, his power suit/tie/briefcase, his general GQ air of 'I'm better than you', or perhaps he's just a chump.
I've always found GQ's restaurant advice to be on par with most National League pitcher's batting averages.
He must not have read the Chowhound posts. This site is perfect for getting honest opinions about places, and for finding out about the off-the-beaten-path places that he clearly didn't visit. It seems to me that to evaluate the food culture of a city, you need to do a lot more digging and investigation than he did.
It also seems to me that he is destined not to like Creole, Cajun, or Southern cuisine all that much, no matter how well crafted the dishes are.
I can't get real worked up about some damnyankee's down-the-nose-looking review. Mr. Richman should stay in 212 and eat their overpriced, overhyped, overselfimportant food to his heart's content. There are lots of us who will gladly take his table in NO.
As both a native New Orleanian and a journalist who witnessed the ravages of Katrina, the article infuriated me. However, I do think that a few of Richman's criticisms were well-founded.
Most of the food and deserts are quite heavy, the city government is inept and it is a hard-sell to convince taxpaying American's who live elsewhere that they have a duty (and i mean that in either & both senses of the word) to send their money to such a poorly run municipality.
That acknowledged, I was shocked at how meanspirited and slanted the piece was from its inception. Clearly, Mr. Richman began with a distinct distaste for the city, its culture and its food.
As a journalist, I believe anyone in the field, including critics, should approach a subject with an open mind and allow what he finds to guide his opinion but it seemed to me that Richman came in with an entrenched and inflexible take on the city that would never allow him to enjoy what he found.
People who love to visit New Olreans enjoy what makes it different and distinctive in a world where nearly every U.S. city looks and tastes the same. So, while I love microgreens and foam - that is never going to be (nor should it be) what New Oleans cuisine either produces or strives towards.
The capricious and/or subjective nature of "reviewing" restaurants was laid bare in the article. Upperline was charming but Brigstens was something a fat man might choose at a buffet? There is no rational explanation other than mood, whimsy or agenda to explain the wildly divergent opinions of these two, relatively similar restaurants.
Additionally, it was somewhat shocking how unimaginitive Richman's choice of dining establishments was (with the possible exception of Parkway and perhaps Lilette). He failed to mention Cochon, Iris, Table One or any of the places that have emerged since Katrina to fill the community need to sup and socialize.
And while Richman had some valid points (buried amidst the heaps of vitriol directed at New Orleans' cuisine, culture and very existence), he revealed far more about his own limitations than those of the city.
Regardless of anyone's food preferences, the tone of this article reeked of agenda to me. What kind of a thing to say is this: "I know we are supposed to salvage what’s left of the city, but what exactly is it that we’re trying to cherish and preserve?"
I think it's pretty clear that Richman was trying to be controversial by being unnecessarily nasty. It's unfortunate and I don't respect it, but sometimes I guess it's how to get your articles read. As foodies I think, as another poster said, we should not really be considering GQ's food advice as relevant. Let them eat foam.
folks, I didn't get the same impression from the article; it has a definite point of view, and somewhat like a movie review from a critic who makes clear his preferences and perspective, which you might share or not, but gives you a good enough idea of what went on in the film that it's a useful preview. The Richman style you might be offended by is intended to be entertaining/amusing, a little like the insult comedy genre.
I've only been to NO once about ten years ago, enjoyed most of the foods immensely, but had enough just-ok stuff to easily relate to much of what Richman wrote. I agree with the Central Grocery critique: better quality ingredients (bread among other things) would make a good sandwich into a great one, but I don't doubt that it has the best available that can be reasonably sold at its price point, and a good sandwich has its own respectable place in the larger scheme.
The article was worth reading just for the bit about Leah Chase, the only owner of a place during our visit who troubled to chat with every table of diners, and her optimism and grace as she goes on living in a FEMA trailer remind me of the best of NO. In my estimation, Richman leavened his scathing negatives (that style thing) with words of praise and encouragement. cheers
Perhaps if Richman had written his article pre-K then it would have been tolerated, shrugged off or only slightly annoying to the people of New Orleans.
However, it is approximately 15 months after the largest natural disaster to hit the U.S. in our lifetime (and hopefully beyond) so, you might want to forgive the people of New Orleans for being ill-humored about a published assault on one of their few remaining sources of civic pride (other than the Saints) and one of the only functioning economic engines in the city.
Knocking New Orleans when it is down is a big deal (and I think rightly so) to the people of a city and region that have been ravaged, who have lost homes, businesses and in some cases buried friends and loved ones. There are hundreds and hundreds of people like Leah Chase who are trying to put their lives back together. Some are old and have no income other than social security, some have seen their pre-K jobs disappear or move elsewhere, many were either under or un-insured and many people in the city work in and around the restaurant & hotel business - they rely upon the money that tourism brings.
The GQ article, while minor in comparison to the hell and high-water people have endured, is yet another indignity - especially so to those who rely on tourist dollars, the article is an obstacle to the perception of recovery among potential visitors.
Richman has every right to express his opinion and the people who care about New Orleans (even the ones who find some fault with its cuisine) have every right to think the author a petty man who authored a mean-spirited and ill-timed critique of the city the love.