How I Taught My Brother To Cook

Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)

Although I enjoy cooking and eating I maintain a very simple rating system: very good, good, ok and bad. These words is how I describe what I have made or have eaten. I know Johnny uses adjectives like, great, fabulous, unbelievable and the like but to me in order to achieve that state of "nirvana" would mean that after the meal you reside in a state of semi-unconscious bliss, sorta like morphine. I have never attained that level by eating food. My very good may be someone elses, unbelievable and so on. I guess it's an individual thing and how a person tends to express themselves in general and perceive the world around them. I don't rightly know the answer. The other part of this equation, is that my evaluation of very good may be your "absolutely dreadful". Therein lies the wonderment of food critics. A motley crew in my eyes. Never understood how an individual critic can speak for so many diverse taste buds. But they do and they are held in high esteem by many and hated by others. Our society allows them to make or break a restaurant. We don't need critics. Let the people decide. The restaurant will go out of business on their own or become very popular depending how well their product is and how many people share that opinion. Of course, I am not including the restaurants that exist just to "be seen in" for status purposes. But I don't go to restaurants anyway, so I really don't care either way. I just go about my business and my four simple food adjectives and I'm "ok" with that.

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Comment by Debbie on January 29, 2009 at 5:10pm
Adjectives are expressions that describe a noun. So when I complement Patrick, it may sound like this................Patrick, this meal that you created is so very wonderful, fabulous, and unbelievably very good, it is so good and ok that I approve! : )

I understand about the critic jargon that you are speaking of; how can we respect a critic's evaluation of a dish that we may love or must experience the dish for yourself and judge for yourself. Food critics know the basics, but basics aren't enough to critique a dish. For example, I love sea food, fish, etc but I do not like oysters only because I haven't tried them in their best way for me, so a critic may or may not like the oysters, but that should not be a deciding factor to me.........I just haven't found a dish (yet) in which I like oysters. Many people without a mind of their own, will allow the critics to decide for them. To me, those people do not live.
Comment by John Barrows on January 29, 2009 at 5:26pm
descriptive words are just semantics. but the point about critics is well-taken. And I agree. But consider this (much as we make not like it):

there are a lot of people who need advice, and that's just a confidence thing. if they're willing to follow a critic's lead, then that's their problem. But it makes them feel more secure in their choices. Most people have no taste in anything - food, clothes, art, architecture, home decor, flower arrangements, etc..... These are people who say, "I just eat to live". So, if one of these guys wants to take his wife out for dinner, he's gonna have to get some advice. And then he'll just judge the restaurant by how much glop they pile on his plate. That, my friends, is the American way.

I read restaurant and movie critics reviews, but I always make my own decisions. If I read some critics' reviews consistently, and if for the most part I wind up agreeing with them, then I learn to put more faith in what they say. Reading reviews gives me more of an idea of what the restaurant offers, rather than what someone else thought about it.

I read conservative columnists, for example, just to try to understand what they're thinking (or if they're thinking).

But in the final analysis, critics are just trying to make a living and they'll say what they have to to get people to read their drivel.
Comment by John Barrows on January 29, 2009 at 5:32pm
I think we should have some standardized words and phrases for criticising things. That way everyone would know what to expect:

"this sucks" (kinda says it all)
"this tastes so good I'd like to rub it all over ...... " (well, you get the picture)
"I could live on this" (maybe the highest compliment)
"it's filling" (a nice way to say it's OK but not your cup of tea)
Comment by Debbie on January 29, 2009 at 5:42pm
LOL! I say "I can live on this",............esp if vegetable or seafood! The second choice, well I guess that is more for another place and time!
Comment by Laura on February 2, 2009 at 11:01am
Food critic is a "job" like journalist except hunting places are restaurants. Well, not bad for a hunter ... but what should he appreciate ? What should we consider even if its not our job ?
My consiceration is :
1/ welcome is essential to make me stay
2/ atmosphere, decor and cleanness (I often go to the bathroom to have an idea of cleannees ...)
3/ food quality, quantity and originality
It doesn't mean that traditional dish can't be served without "chef personality"
It absolutly means an invented dish that is the chef reputation needs to be perfect
4/ service, If I have to wait to long for a dish, If server remember I ask for something ...
Its remind me once we ate in a pizzeria, I had a seafood pizza and I asked for lemon ... that never came ! When the man asked if everything was okay giving us the bill, I said no because still waiting for lemon, he laughed at me and turn back : that makes me crazy).
5/ the bill ... not to expensive

I very critic on my own cooking : its good or its not good !


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