Elsewhere, dudebro named Tom Harrow, the, you know, Winechap founder, wants people to stop writing about food on the Internet. Is there a German word for "very slight nostalgia?" Reading this took me back all the way 2007, when there was maybe still a little pepper in the salt, and Tawm Brady and Randy Moss were going through the regular season like a school of bluefish through a shoal of menhaden.
Me? I can't believe the noise. I'm nostalgic for the days when criticism was an art. Most blogs about food and wine offer ceaseless narrative with little insight. A good critic, however, does not merely catalogue dishes but assesses them in a way that's illuminative. "I wish the critics of today would taste a little less and think a little more," said Elin McCoy, an author and critic at Bloomberg, at an international bloggers conference last year. I would then add: And write a little less. In some cases, it would be best if they didn't write at all.
It's like the epic Pete Wells cheese sandwich troll, rebooted for the age of Obama! But on a website spinoff of the Economist, not Food & Wine. Because, you see, these guys:
The critic, once the arbiter of good taste, has become a mere citizen in the blogosphere. Now the disparate opinions of an engaged—if not quite engaging—online community (such as the appropriately shrill-sounding Yelp, or Yell in Britain, and Amazon's own enthusiastic customers) have displaced the authority of experts.
Took over for these guys:
I agree, that Kingsley Amis vs Yelp is not a fair fight, prosewise, but who the hell looks at Yelp for the writing? Yelp is on the Internet, but it is not a food blog, so maybe Harrow's beef is that people use the Internet to communicate about food, rather than wait for Kingsley Amis to tell you the deal. As far as actual blogs go,
Cream rising amid the scum? That's one jacked-up dairy. But "difficult" is the key word here. There are jillions of bad food blogs nobody reads, and some good ones that lots of folks read. (Also, arguably, bad food blogs lots of folks read, but I digress.) If you read blogs using the "next blog" thing on Blogger, and have an Aspergerian compulsion to read each blog all the way through to the end, it would be hard to find blogs you like.) Fortunately, it's not a blind search. This part should be obvious to anyone who uses the Internet, but Harrow evidently missed the part where blogs can list favorite links. Lists on Twitter allow the same kind of thing. Actually, this kind of connection is bad, turns out:
I cannot understand how re-tweeting is solipsistic, or for that matter, what a solipsist would want with an "outlet." Perhaps "narcissistic" works, but unless you only retweet nice things people say about you (TheAtlantic, hollerr!), it's not really that either. I also cannot understand how these networks form the aforementioned mat of scum from whence the cream cannot escape.
Harrow hazards another metaphor to explain the difference between bad food writing and good food writing:
What's worse, their reviews of a mediocre or frustrating meal are often mediocre and frustrating in themselves, and often appear just as visibly in online search results. When Adrian Gill skewers a sacred cow like L'Ami Louis in Vanity Fair, the result is an electric, hilarious clash of the Titans. The sniping of waggish bloggers is often more like horseflies on mules.
This very passage is frustrating, in a mediocre sort of way. The utility of famous critics writing about Paris restaurants in glossy monthlies cannot be denied, but for those moments when one finds oneself peckish in another arondissment, it can be handy to refer to non-famous critics writing about food in weeklies, dalies, or even online, or "horseflies on mules," as Harrow puts it. Some sample "snipes" from these "wags" might help, but Harrow can't be bothered.
Everyone has the right to an opinion, few the sense or sensibility not to express it. Perhaps I am a curmudgeon, but all these frivolously documented sips and mouthfuls are becoming harder to swallow.
It may or may not be worth it to suggest to Harrow that one way around his problem would be not to read all of these frivolously documented sips and swallows. However, a notion like "there are things on the internet that don't interest me, so I ignore them," seems like something most of us understand intuitively and move on with our lives. Instead, taking a page from Frank Bruni on Harry Potter, Harrow's move is "there are things on the internet that don't interest me, so here is a column about them."