Alan Richman responds to the rampant criticism of his GQ piece on NOLA
Read it here: http://men.style.com/gq/blogs/gqedito...
Really smart and to the point. don't hate the guy for speaking the truth... or giving an honest, earnest response to the tragedy that was Katrina-ed New Orleans.
Not smart at all. Basically, he voices some straw man arguments and blows them down. This does nothing to refute the intelligent criticism of Brett Anderson. Now he reads like even more of a nincompoop then ever.
Well, I'm sure glad Richman wants to save New Orleans from itself. What a pompous ass! Do away with "a citizenry caught up in myths, play-acting, and fantasy" and you have a sterile, mid-sized town that would be like any other sterile mid-sized town that is not worth visiting. Those of us who want to continue to make visit after visit to "the city that care forgot" would rather not have input on putting it back together from Richman and his ilk.
A Food Critic?
"Maybe roux is magic to locals, but as a thickener, I don't see that it's much different from cornstarch."
GQ should send this guy to cooking school before they send him to restaurants.
Alas, this practical idea has probably been nixed by GQ's legal department, which has predicted that fellow students would give him repeated "hanging from the pothook" wedgies, which, if publicized, could result in reduced advertising sales from Calvin Klein Undies.
But, even if he would never get the difference between roux and cornstarch, he would at least be able to make the seasoned statement:
"Maybe standard combed-cotton in undies is magic to locals, but as a thickener, I DO see that it's much different than Egyptian or Pima cotton."
Yes, the guy clearly hasn't a clue about southern cooking. A properly made dark roux is not simply a thickener -- it's an important part of the TASTE of the dish bringing toasty, smokey highlights to whatever it is added to. A properly made roux smells almost like popcorn as you cook it out and, in fact, the darker it gets the less it thickens and the more it becomes a flavor element.
Given his ignorance, Richman could just as easily have said, "Maybe roux is magic to locals, but as a thickener, I don't see much difference from cement."
I kind of agree with the guy. Sorry, New Orleans does need a change. My experiences down there have been less than savory...so to speak. The last thing it needs is to become its old self.
I don't, however, agree that his writing will make any difference in what happens with the fate of New Orleans. If he thinks so, well, I just don't see it happening.
Did anyone who is knocking Richman even read his blog response that was posted at the beginning of the thread? He qualifies his poor "roux" statement, and basically said that he doesn't care if you don't agree with him, but to attack him simply because his opnion is different than yours is just plain offensive. I respect everyone's opinion that I read on this board, even if I do not agree with them.
I am a food writer, and like Richman, I have been knocked down by the public because they simply did not "agree" with my point of view. I would hope that some of the other food writers reading on this site would at least respect the guy for putting his opinion out there. Intelligent debate on any topic cannot occur without BOTH sides of the issue, another fact that Richman points out in his response blog.
I mean, the man has gotten everything from death threats to calls for his resignation on this article. And how fair is that? He stated his opinion, he didn't blow up a building full of children.
He stated his opinion about the food, that's fine. Then he stated lots of nasty things about the people. And he displayed a complete ignorance of the city's history and geography (particularly on the podcast when he wondered why the city was located where it was).
This is more than people being upset that Richman didn't like the food (although some people did respond strictly to that).
Richman's reply is complete spin. He tries to make the original article sound like constructive advice, which it was not. His only advice was that more restaurants should cook like August.
More than the substance, I think the snide, mocking tone got Richman in trouble. If you don't understand why people are upset, ask yourself at what point it became ok to mock New Yorkers and their city after 9/11.
I don't know how anyone can read the original article and think it was contributing to intelligent debate.
As a food writer, I have no problem with Richman stating his opinion about food. I do have a problem with him making ill-informed and mean spirited remarks about the people of New Orleans. I also have a problem with his borderline racist comments (dismissing Creoles as make believe people at a time when this unique--and complicated--ethnic group is in a danger of disappearing due to Katrina; this is like a writer going to Oklahoma and saying Indians are make believe because he didn't see any). And I have a problem with him getting his facts wrong and not taking the time to understand a complicated place.
In his piece, and in the response, he betrays, nay boasts about, his all-but-total ignorance of the cuisine with the belligerent pride of a tourist proclaiming that choucroute is nothing but fancy sauerkraut and cassoulet is inferior to pork n' beans - in fact, he all but denies that living Creole culture, of which the cooking at Galatoire's is one of the pinnacles, even exists.
His Ugly American schtick can be intermittantly amusing when he's blundering through French three-stars, and is almost so when he yet again chooses a gimmick with which to bludgeon restaurnts in my hometown Los Angeles, but the New Orleans restaurant scene is incredibly fragile at the moment - affordable housing for line cooks and busboys is all but nonexistent, a huge percentage of staff have experienced unendurable tragedy, the local products are not yet reliably on line - and New Orleans is more than ever dependent on its destroyed tourist economy, which Richman's snide article is doing nothing to help. It's not quite like going to occupied Paris in 1943 and complaining about the state of Maxim's and Lasserre, but it's not much different, either. I could be wrong, but I don't believe that T-P critic Anderson has even begun really to review restaurants again.
Richman's response is total spin. The original article was in no way part of an intelligent debate.
Some have attacked Richman for having a negative opinion about the food. I agree that he should be allowed to think what he likes. A lot of writers, myself included, were offended when Richman moved beyond food to make ill-informed and vicious comments about the people and the city. For that, he certainly deserve the scorn he got.