Monday, August 22, 2005

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Received a comment recently about one of the restaurants I reviewed. The person felt that I had misled readers of the said article and claimed that the food was not authentic enough.

This commentator also disagreed with my comment about the fish dish...with all due respect, it's ok by me to critique my writing. I just don't feel it is justified to judge restaurants or dishes too harshly - yes, we pay to eat and have every right to eat decently. But passing remarks or discussing it with close friends and family are acceptable - after all people's memories are short and verbal negative comments are somewhat easier to forget. Not when one is doing food writing or reveiws though.

I soon learn quickly that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword when I started my food writing and restaurant review stint. Like the famous saying from Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibilities...", those of us who are entrusted to write about food realise we have to walk a fine line between being honest and upfront for the sake of being credible, and being diplomatic and allow room for some of the outlets' misdemenours.

While it is all too easy to be 100 percent judgemental and call a spade, a spade - those of us who are life long learners in food, cooking, buying, experimenting and eating - will emphathise with the chefs and owners also on the need to live up to the public's expectations. Constantly and consistently. Being human beings, we are imperfect so there will be times when things go wrong and dishes, service, ambience, etc. do not turn out the way one has anticipated or expected.

"Nobody ever open a restaurant to serve bad food" is another motto that I kept very much at heart. Which is so true isn't it? Opening a restaurant takes guts, money, passion, time, labour & 101 things that we won't know about if we are not in the business. Like they say, you won't know how I feel until you have walk a mile in my shoes. So I don't think I have the right to pass a death sentence on any restaurant or chef for that matter - the food may be mediocre or not up to scratch or not to my liking...I prefer a live and let live attitude cos someone else may find the food is acceptable, just to their preference or taste - there's just no accounting for different tastebuds or palates. One man's meat is another man's poison remember?

Now back to my reviews...I will comment on the food but really that remains my personal opinion. I try as much as possible to relate the personal aims, dreams and ambitions of the restaurants' chefs/owners on why they choose to be in the business or what drives them to create a particular dish. But what I refuse to do is to run them down or be downright harsh on them - just because I don't like the taste of the spaghetti or reckon the fish is not cooked properly? When it comes to food there's no wrong way or right way - just like wine tasting, go for what you like. It's all personal in the end so what's the point of being too serious about it? I prefer to let readers form their own opinion and draw their own conclusions.

Even with food creators, outlet owners and operators, I always tell them it's not my review that will draw in business for them. It's their own efforts, hard work, food quality, taste and consistency that will win people over. Now isn't that great food for thought? You tell me.

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