Thursday, December 07, 2006

Food Fight

Shrimp etouffee! Yum!This little controversy has been going on for a while, but I'm only just now getting around to paying attention to it. In November, GQ food critic Alan Richman wrote an article (with accompanying podcast) in which he slammed not only the cuisine of my favorite city, but also the city itself. He said, among other things:

I know we are supposed to salvage what’s left of the city, but what exactly is it that we’re trying to cherish and preserve? I hope it’s not the French Quarter, which has evolved into a illogical mix of characterless housing, elegant antiques stores, and scuzzy bars, a destination for tourists seeking the worst possible experience.
He concluded with a sentiment I agree with:
I think people either take to the city or they do not. They buy into the romance, or they abhor the decadence. I know where I stand.
Although I might add that the reverse is true as well: the city takes to you or it doesn't.

The Times-Picayune immediately lambasted Richman for ignorance and inaccuracy, and columnist Lolis Elie also hammered home the point that Richman doesn't even understand the difference between Cajun and Creole. (Lots of people don't, but lots of people aren't award-winning food writers, either.)

Finally, Richman responds to the Times-Picayune ("a third-rate newspaper") in an interview with a New Orleans web site.

My take? I'm not a food critic nor do I possess a sophisticated palate, but I'll repeat what I've said on numerous occasions: I've dined in Paris and I've dined in New Orleans, and for my money New Orleans more than holds its own.

So I guess you could say I know where I stand too, and it's not with Mr. Richman.