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Worst food writing ever?

pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 12:47 PM

This, from a review of a new hot dog joint, by a critic named Graham Duncan, in Toronto's NOW magazine:

"This salad tasted so earthy, fresh and delicious that it was like performing cunnilingus on Alice Waters's vegetable patch."

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  1. f
    Fuser RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 12:51 PM

    OMG ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww, that's completely disgusting -- not just from a Puritanical POV, which doesn't bother me so much, as just how revolting that sounds. I can assure you I'd never be able to go to the restaurant in question and order this salad after hearing that remark.

    1. clim212 RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 12:52 PM


      sorry, I actually found it quite amusing!

      4 Replies
      1. re: clim212
        mariacarmen RE: clim212 Aug 24, 2007 09:57 AM

        agreed - hilarious! i'm just wondering why a hot dog joint has such a seductive-sounding salad . . .

        1. re: mariacarmen
          fara RE: mariacarmen Sep 11, 2007 04:03 PM

          i guess we don't want to know what he said about the hot dogs!

          1. re: fara
            MC Slim JB RE: fara Sep 11, 2007 04:05 PM

            Um, wittlejosh beat you to that joke by about three weeks.

            1. re: MC Slim JB
              fara RE: MC Slim JB Sep 11, 2007 08:58 PM


      2. Chew on That RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 01:24 PM

        Hahah, I would definitely be shocked reading that but at least it still makes sense! Like clim, I'm more so amused than disturbed!


        1. FunLovingFoodie RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 01:32 PM

          verbal acuity is a gift. I thought it was pretty funny, shocking, but funny!

          1. h
            hungry_pangolin RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 05:47 PM

            I'm not a prude, but, Sweet Jesus, that's inexcusable.

            1. MC Slim JB RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 07:00 PM

              It's an odd mixed metaphor. Might Graham be a very young person, the sort who thinks this is outrageous and edgy and daring? I'm glad I didn't have to watch him eat that salad.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB
                tatamagouche RE: MC Slim JB Aug 24, 2007 09:59 AM

                Heh. Amen. I actually went from thinking it was ridiculous to sublime in about 2 seconds...b/c, let's face it, we're talking about it.
                But to *really* know which it is, I think context would help...

                1. re: tatamagouche
                  wittlejosh RE: tatamagouche Aug 24, 2007 01:24 PM

                  I, um, wonder what the metaphor he, uh, might have used for the hot dog...

                  1. re: wittlejosh
                    Beef Pattie RE: wittlejosh Aug 27, 2007 10:03 AM

                    Now that made me laugh!

              2. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 07:26 PM

                There's food porn, and then there's that statement. Wow.

                My vote for worst food writing is for Stephen Lemons when he did the food column for the Phoenix New Times. His writing always came across like a junior high school kid just figured out what a thesaurus does, and used it to find all the really big words. He's also very predictable; ethnic places and places that serve large portions will be praised; chains (why is he reviewing chain restaurants in the first place?) and anything trendy will be automatically scorned. I've included a link to one of his reviews where even a good write-up leaves me with zero desire to eat there solely due to Lemons's overly blustery nature.


                8 Replies
                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                  Frolic RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Aug 24, 2007 06:44 AM

                  Wow, I think Stephen wins the prize. That's really bad writing. He uses both "lad" and "lass" in that review. And he calls something "toothsome," the worst food adjective I know. Also, he doesn't seem to know what an empanada is.

                  1. re: Frolic
                    The Engineer RE: Frolic Aug 24, 2007 09:52 AM


                  2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                    mariacarmen RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Aug 24, 2007 10:16 AM

                    I thought the weirdest thing about that review was that he was puzzled by the avocado on his plate, and his confusion cleared up when he was told to put salt on it! oooh, scary!

                    1. re: mariacarmen
                      Frolic RE: mariacarmen Aug 24, 2007 10:58 AM

                      Yeah, salt makes things taste better. Who would have guessed. I hear that sugar makes things sweet, but I haven't tried that yet.

                    2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                      jtc RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Aug 24, 2007 08:07 PM

                      I wish he would have translated the word "delicioso" like he did the restaurant name, as I have no idea what that means.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                        soupkitten RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Aug 28, 2007 12:36 PM

                        "And figs are one of my many gustatory passions, right up there with marzipan, green tea ice cream, and persimmon pudding. I could gobble a freighterload of figs and a volcano full of caramel, for the largest brevas con arequipe ever!"

                        uuuugh. methinks the lad should be shot. soon as i pull my socks on.

                        where is his editor-- on top of the horrible writing and apparently flexible definitions of many words, he's beginning a sentence in a published newspaper with the word *AND*?

                        1. re: soupkitten
                          pikawicca RE: soupkitten Aug 28, 2007 12:45 PM

                          Actually, beginning a sentence with "and" is perfectly acceptable ("but" as well) and has been done many times by very good writers. And that's all I have to say on the matter.

                          1. re: pikawicca
                            soupkitten RE: pikawicca Aug 28, 2007 12:54 PM

                            well i don't have any problem when "very good writers" do it for emphasis.

                            but back to food. . .

                      2. m
                        mpalmer6c RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 09:29 PM

                        Sounds like he's the Michael Vick of food writing. Can't imagine why anyone would find it amusing. But I take it this magazine is the Canadian equivelent of Hustler?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mpalmer6c
                          sweetie RE: mpalmer6c Aug 24, 2007 12:12 PM

                          Not even close. NOW is a weekly entertainment publication. Newspaper format. I kind of think of it as "downtown" entertainment guide. Although some of the adverts in the classified section do belong in Hustler.

                        2. kiwi RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 09:34 PM

                          I'm guessing that Toronto's NOW magazine is not affiliated with NOW (National Organization for Women).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kiwi
                            ctscorp RE: kiwi Aug 23, 2007 09:36 PM

                            Hilarious. It makes me think "vegetable patch" would be a good new euphemism....

                            1. re: ctscorp
                              kiwi RE: ctscorp Aug 23, 2007 10:20 PM


                          2. inuksuk RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 09:46 PM

                            I'm more bemused than offended but clearly Mr. Duncan is trying too hard to impress.

                            1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: pimentdespelette Aug 23, 2007 10:46 PM

                              This is probably funnier if you've read UNITED STATES OF ARUGULA...which I bet this writer had just recently done when he wrote that.

                              I'm surprised that was in NOW, though: sounds more like the writing in EYE, which generally tries (at times too hard) to be edgier and snarkier than NOW. To my fellow Bostonians: NOW is the Phoenix, EYE is the Dig. To me, this guy sounds like the David Tharpe of Toronto food writing: "My ideas are utterly pedestrian, but if I swear a lot, I'll sound all transgressive 'n' stuff!" (Sorry, MC Slim, but...well, you know.)

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                curiousbaker RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 24, 2007 06:48 AM

                                I'll admit - I like the Dig. And I think the quote above is pretty damned funny. But then again, I can be really immature.

                                1. re: curiousbaker
                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: curiousbaker Aug 24, 2007 09:54 AM

                                  I like the Dig too! It's just that one guy I can't stand.

                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                    MC Slim JB RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 24, 2007 11:32 AM

                                    You should lay off of Brodeur; he's a mensch, and a helluva food writer. And he crapped all over Legal Test Kitchen, which I really appreciated.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: MC Slim JB Aug 24, 2007 11:36 AM

                                      I have no beef with Brodeur.

                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                        MC Slim JB RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 24, 2007 11:40 AM

                                        That was a joke; I assumed you were talking about me.

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: MC Slim JB Aug 24, 2007 11:46 AM

                                          Nah, just Tharpe. You I like.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                            MC Slim JB RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 24, 2007 12:06 PM

                                            That's a relief. I didn't really want to have to start cursing and stuff. I've always eschewed the f-bomb in my food writing.

                              2. s
                                Sharuf RE: pimentdespelette Aug 24, 2007 01:19 AM

                                There was a food critic in one of the local weeklies who drove me nuts with her self-referentialism. For a while I was keeping score on her, and she would average seven first-person pronouns in the first paragraph.

                                1. e
                                  Elyssa RE: pimentdespelette Aug 24, 2007 04:56 AM

                                  I'm not familar with the NOW magazine but I imagine it caters to a more "alternative crowd." lol Seriously---funny but not the image I really want in my food review. :)

                                  1. amanda3571 RE: pimentdespelette Aug 24, 2007 08:16 AM

                                    hahaha....my god. that's intense.

                                    1. SauceSupreme RE: pimentdespelette Aug 24, 2007 01:44 PM

                                      I'm just mad he thought of that line first. I think it's great!

                                      1. Krista G RE: pimentdespelette Aug 24, 2007 01:46 PM

                                        Maybe I'm too caught up with NYC crap, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Daily News "controversy" yet. It's the the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title of this thread.





                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Krista G
                                          inuksuk RE: Krista G Aug 24, 2007 01:53 PM

                                          The issue re: Danyelle Freeman was discussed some in this thead: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/431079

                                          1. re: Krista G
                                            MC Slim JB RE: Krista G Aug 24, 2007 03:17 PM

                                            I didn't really follow the whole Restaurant Girl saga, but I read her first review for the Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/...

                                            Wow, her writing is just awful -- not a great reflection on Harvard. It's so weirdly stilted, it's kind of hard to read.

                                            I always wonder how anyone whose face is splashed around in so many photos can be a successful critic. When it's that easy to see you coming, you aren't getting the same treatment as your readers.

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                              wittlejosh RE: MC Slim JB Aug 24, 2007 07:37 PM

                                              Wow, you're right. I'm surprised the copy desk didn't fix a lot of that. It's like they accidentally published the first draft.

                                              1. re: wittlejosh
                                                bubbles4me RE: wittlejosh Aug 24, 2007 07:48 PM

                                                I think I'm not offended by the line as much as it makes me feel dirty to think of Alice Waters that way! She is like a Saint to a bunch of us California food freaks...makes me feel icky in a, "making out in church" kinda way.

                                                1. re: bubbles4me
                                                  Blueicus RE: bubbles4me Aug 24, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                  You just need to have faith that Alice Waters has a "Professional Kitchen" sorta humour.

                                                  1. re: bubbles4me
                                                    MikeG RE: bubbles4me Aug 25, 2007 12:58 PM

                                                    Offhand I can't think of any food "name" I really want to imagine naked let alone in flagrante. (!!) But while I dare say she might raise an eyebrow (or two), what ultimately matters is that he spelled her name right and is probably writing to an audience that weren't gleams in their parents eyes when she first hit national attention, which certainly doesn't hurt her any...

                                            2. p
                                              ppalm RE: pimentdespelette Aug 28, 2007 12:24 PM

                                              someone was trying to get the editor's attention, I think! puke.

                                              1. Withnail42 RE: pimentdespelette Aug 28, 2007 03:20 PM

                                                'NOW' is Toronto's attempt at an alternative paper. Toronto is a buttoned down bland place. A few years ago they banned the group Bare Naked Ladies from performing on grounds the the name was offensive. So the paper does have it's work cut out.

                                                To me it seems like a guy trying too hard for edgy shock value.

                                                Yet despite all that Montreal has had some worse food writers. The Mirror(alternative) had a woman who spent a great deal of her time talking about her daughter and how though it is being a single mother. Currently The Gazette (daily) has a critic who tends to write from a very high pedestal. Quite full of herself for no apparent reason.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Withnail42
                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: Withnail42 Aug 28, 2007 03:53 PM

                                                  I'm afraid you don't have the Barenaked Ladies story quite right: a low-level staffer for the mayor unilaterally got them booted from the bill of a 1991 city-sponsored New Year's Eve concert because she felt their name objectified women. After the local media frenzy, the staffer got canned and the mayor formally apologized. And actually, that incident helped lead to the band getting a record contract, so win-win.

                                                  1. re: Withnail42
                                                    Beef Pattie RE: Withnail42 Aug 28, 2007 03:54 PM

                                                    Barenaked Ladies?! Good Lord that's old news - that was 1991!

                                                  2. l
                                                    linz_e_moore RE: pimentdespelette Sep 7, 2007 05:55 PM

                                                    LoL, I'm 21 and that comment made me blush!

                                                    1. s
                                                      sugarbuzz RE: pimentdespelette Sep 7, 2007 06:41 PM

                                                      You want bad food writing? Give Meredith Brody of the SFWeekly a read. Will someone please fire this person?!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: sugarbuzz
                                                        Barry Foy RE: sugarbuzz Sep 7, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                        In Seattle, Anthony Bourdain described the deep arm-reach involved in gathering geoducks (an elephantine clam, in case you don't know) as "like fisting Shamu." That, it seems to me, is pitched right about where the cunnilingus line was. So is it good writing or bad? Is it good because it's Bourdain? Funny thing, though: neither line makes me particularly hungry...not for food, anyway.

                                                        1. re: Barry Foy
                                                          The Engineer RE: Barry Foy Sep 11, 2007 12:20 PM

                                                          Its good because its funny! The original quote is bad because its personal.

                                                          Of course, Shamu might take exception to my analysis...

                                                      2. Robert Lauriston RE: pimentdespelette Sep 10, 2007 10:27 AM

                                                        I'm not sure about worst, but I think this blog post by Michael Bauer might be the most embarrassing bit of food writing I've ever read:


                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          hungry_pangolin RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 10, 2007 05:44 PM

                                                          Because of the condescension, and/or the inaccuracies (to be kind)? The combination, I think.

                                                          BTW, RL, I always enjoy your posts.

                                                          1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: hungry_pangolin Sep 10, 2007 07:53 PM

                                                            As an Eater LA reader put it, "The amazing thing about Bauer's gloss is that he got almost everything wrong."


                                                        2. Cat Chow RE: pimentdespelette Sep 11, 2007 07:35 PM

                                                          Is he speaking from first hand, personal experience with the said Patch owner? LOL!!!!

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