Joe Fogarty, writing from Chicago. takes exception to Peter Howard’s USA Holiday Report.
I’m sorry – but only a little – to read of Chef Peter Howard‘s disappointment with the food in the U.S. Bad flavour combinations in Italian dishes? Dumping on Rachael Ray? Either he’s not telling us about the very wonderful meals he had during FIVE weeks of travel here, or he wasn’t trying very hard to find them.
No doubt, I could spend five weeks in Australia and find disappointment with the food. Are there no popular food show personalities on TV in Australia offering their twist on the vegemite sandwich?
And you know, a peanut butter, bacon and tomato sandwich sounds like something that might be pretty good, at least to an American palate. You know, the palate non-American foodies like to dismiss as unrefined?
And speaking of critics and criticism, I thought you’d find interesting the food blogosphere kerfuffle that happened here last week, since it involves Italian food of the kind that Howard’s description might fit.
Eighty-five year old Marilyn Hagerty writes the “Eat Beat” column for the Grand Forks Herald. Grand Forks is in North Dakota, a windswept town of about 70,000 souls on the prairie of the Upper Midwest. No one would consider it a culinary Mecca.
(Background: The Olive Garden is a chain restaurant ubiquitous in the U.S.. For some Americans, especially in small and medium sized cities – and in lots of suburbs – it is the only Italian restaurant choice.)
Hagerty’s very earnest review of the restaurant went viral and lots of snarkologists were quick to make fun of it.
But then some people put Hagerty’s review in context. A fabulous sportswriter, Joe Posnanski, had this beautifully-written take on her review - The Olive Garden - and the discussion it engendered.
Hagerty made the national news. She did TV interviews. She is as delightful and forthright and sweet as you would expect an 85 year old five columns-a-week writer to be. And she’s no rube, either.
The funny thing is, it’s simply a report about the restaurant itself and the experience of eating there – except for the food.
A former editor of hers related that when Hagerty writes about the paint on the wall and the flower arrangements, you know the food isn’t very good.
It’s a subtle approach. Maybe food critics could take a lesson!
I invite Chef Howard to Chicago for a culinary exploration filled with interesting flavours, small portions, no Rachael Ray – and a trip to the Olive Garden, just for fun.