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Worst food writing ever?

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. 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. hahahahahhahahahahahahhahaha

      sorry, I actually found it quite amusing!

      4 Replies
      1. re: clim212

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

        1. re: mariacarmen

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

          1. re: fara

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

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

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

            1. 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

                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

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

              2. 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

                  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: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    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

                      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

                      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

                        "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

                          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

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

                            but back to food. . .

                      2. 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

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

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kiwi

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

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

                            1. 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

                                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

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

                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                    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: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

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

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

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

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

                                      1. 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

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

                                          1. re: Krista G

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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

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

                                                  1. re: bubbles4me

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

                                              1. '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

                                                  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

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

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

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

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                        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

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

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

                                                      2. 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

                                                          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

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


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