A Bone to Pick....
A few weeks ago during the whole “Marcel Egg” fiasco, New York Restaurants’ Grub Street blog had a sit down with Mario Batali and Tony Bourdain. They chatted about this and that...the egg, Adam Platt....all of which can be read here. But I wanted to post this part of the conversation...“On the Blogosphere.
Batali: It’s amazing, these fucking Websites, these blogs. [Otto co-owner] Jason Denton hasn’t even thought about this pizza restaurant that isn’t even a pizza restaurant across the street from Otto, and he’s getting quoted. I call him and say, “Lips. What are you doing?” and he’s like “I want to tell you, I’m never planning on opening a pizza restaurant … I don’t know what happened on the blog this morning.” Whatever the blog heard is now fact.
Bourdain: I think it’s great. They’ve beaten down the wall, and everybody’s invited to write whatever shit they want about you. It’s democratic.
Batali: I’m not so much about these blogs by anonymous people saying nasty things about you. I think it’s getting pretty stupid. If there’s something interesting, and there’s somebody editing it and taking care of it, I’m down with it. But some of those people are just bit with vituperative anger and just want to rail on you.
Bourdain: It’s inevitable, it’s the tide, there’ s no fighting it. There’s a bunch of these guys that are like Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, whipping out their fucking little cameras, and five minutes after one of them says it’s the greatest, the next will say that’s so last week. That’s inevitable. I go to all those sites and enjoy them, especially when they’re about people I don’t like.
Batali: Well, I don’t like them.”(Grub Street, New York Restaurants (2007-05-18). "Batali and Bourdain Argue Over Adam Platt, the Egg Thief, and Much More”. Retrieved on 2007-06-07)
This is a discussion I want in on...So, here’s my take...
If there’s one thing all human beings have in common it’s eating....we all have to do it....we’ll leave the other thing we all have to do for another time. So, food is a subject that most are aware of and have opinions about. For some McDonald’s hits the spot, for others the local greasy spoon has the right grub, and yet others truly enjoy the 5 star experience complete with it’s wine pairing. Now, I know it’s hard for many to believe (especially New Yorkers) but most of the nation doesn’t live on “the island”. In fact most of the nation doesn’t live in any of the cities that make up this country’s “Food Trifecta” (aka New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas). So what are those of us loving the gourmet experience to do? We are out here, in the middle of nowhere, adrift with no good food....wrong! There are restaurants in small towns, some of which have good food from talented chefs. There are those of us out here who have had good food experiences despite our locale.
Now, I know what B&B are asking? “Yah, Burner, what’s your point?”
Let me pose a question. Batali? Who are you cooking for? Who are you writing cook books and taping cooking shows for? Surely it’s not just for the people living and dining in the aforementioned “Trifecta”. I mean if it was, I don’t think you’d make enough to keep you in your Crocs let alone finance trips to Italy. No, you want me, “little Susie homemaker” in the middle of Nowhere, USA to buy your book and cook your food and yearn for that trip to the Italian country side that I will probably never take because I need to put my kid(s) through college on an average American salary. That’s your audience...the people who eat at your restaurants are just your regulars.
It’s coming, wait for it...
Now, back to things all human beings have in common. Another is “gossip”...we love gossip. A hundred years ago it was what they were taking about at the town bakery; ten years ago it was comments around the water cooler; and now since we all take bottled water to work...it’s the blogosphere. We use our computers to find out what’s going on in the world and tell others our opinions (something else innately human). It’s an outlet for some and for people like yourself...it’s useful. Even as we speak, “little Susie homemaker” (that would be me) is giving you free publicity on her blog and I bet you’re somewhere having wine with friends. So, without even trying, or paying, you are being marketed.
“Why do you do it then, Burner? I mean you aren’t making any money!”
For people like me in Nowhere, USA...the blogosphere gives me a voice. If I make Batali’s Tortellini Bolognesi, and it tastes like shit...I get to tell the world that I spent $25 on your cookbook at Amazon and the recipes are horrible. It may suck for you but what other time in history have average people had such a widespread voice. I mean come on Batali, you don’t want editors...my town’s paper editor doesn’t give a rat's ass about you so that would eliminate your chance at small town publicity.
“Ok, Burner...you’re nice enough but what about the trolls...who are “bit with vituperative anger” and spread lies about people they don’t even know?”
What about them...let me ask you a question for a change. Would you rather have trolls who are online writing stupid things about you that reasonable people will be able to decipher (since most trolls are awful writers) or a food critic who HAS come to your restaurant, HAS eaten your food, and now has written an absolutely unappealing review of it for a well read magazine that many locals respect? I would choose the prior. And really what you're accusing us of, judgment without fact, isn't that what you're doing to us (aka the blogging community)? Aren't you judging all of us on one or two bad exeriences? Who's the troll now?