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Jul 18, 2012 11:56 AM

Food Writing in Dallas

I'm using this forum to vent about the Cheap Bastard style of food writing and to see if I'm on my own. Alice, if you're reading this, no offense intended (I realize that might be dumb as "offensive" might be the only way to take it). You used to be by far my favorite food writer in town. Lately though, I'm so tired of the 10% really funny, 85% barely funny, and 5% substance style. I might not care so much if it weren't for the fact that every other writer at The Observer has begun to mimic that style. Maybe Alice is equally upset that her unique style has been so widely adopted that it is now excessive and frustrating. I think my opinion on this is similar to my opinion on Bill Simmons, for you sports fans, who used to throw in the occasional hilarious joke but now just riddles his articles with mediocre joke after mediocre joke and offers very little substance.

Am I alone on this or does anyone else share that sentiment? If I'm alone I'll deal with it. If not, maybe this feedback is valuable.

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  1. I think CB is occasionally hilarious -- she didn't get nominated for a James Beard food writing award for nothing -- and frequently very funny, but few writers bring their A game to every assignment. Her best pieces are about places and events she loves -- like fried everything at the State Fair, or Thanksgiving. I think she goes on and on and on with bad vulgar jokes mostly when she doesn't want to fill her column with examples of why the place was awful. Her weaker columns don't bother me; they're short enough that I don't mind. I agree with you that her imitators should get lives and stop trying to sound like CB -- those folks do get on my nerves.

    By the way, CB and some of her pals are hosting Meat Fight 2012 on November 4 at Sons of Hermann Hall. Very impressive list of Fighters and Judgers. Check it out:

    1. No, you're not alone. The style bears huge resemblance to snippy Yelp Elite-type reviews, and unfortunately, that's the largest audience right now. It's almost like reading TMZ or a bad tabloid blog. Most of what's out there doesn't really go past surface level depth as far as substance goes and I agree that it's frustrating to weed past that crap. But that's what this board is for, so that's why it's important to uphold some standard of quality and hold people accountable for posting poorly, as well as failing to add anything useful to the conversation. And now that we're venting: I hate to say it, but that latter part happens way too frequently around here.

      TG is my go-to food writer and the one who deserves the most respect out of anyone in Dallas. When she does get snarky, her wit is real incisive and quick, and regardless of whether or not she's trying to be clever, the meat in the writing is always there. And yes, that pun was intended (if you follow TG, you'd know she's just very pro-vegetable and rarely eats meat these days).

      Scott Reitz would be in second. I've sent him plenty of good suggestions, but limited transportation kind of hurts his potential- and I know that he has all sorts of ideas running around his head. To be honest, he's the only writer I read on the Observer and I could care less for anything else on that site. If I read any VV publication, it's going to be the Houston Press first, since they are far more consistent about posting good content (obviously apples/oranges here).

      1. I love Alice. I think there are plenty of food writers in this town, and beyond, who are stiff and uninteresting. The academic approach grows tiring to me at some point, and the insider/"look-at-me hanging with Dean and Stephan" is cool, but doesn't serve me much purpose. I'd certainly rather have a meal with Alice than Leslie Brenner, any day. And IMO, CB is a nice comic relief to Scott's excellent coverage of this town's (non-parkie) food scene.

        And the language....par for the course in 90% of commercial kitchens.