I felt the teeniest twinge of remorse about being mean about the AP Stylebook’s venture into food. Because I now wish I had a copy just to see what it has to say about the biggest confusion in the biz: Food writer versus food critic. An organization that you would expect would have a pretty clear take on that let the whole journalism world down this week by doing a roundup Q&A confusing the two. I’ve spent 28 years now answering “What’s it like to be a food critic?” with “I’m not a critic. I write about food.” If the institutions don’t know better, no wonder everyone wants to be a blogger.
All that ranted, I really wish the inimitable AA Gill’s main outlet would open his reviews up to the big wide world again (and not just so I can get more people looking here for “porn star’s scrotum”). His writing is so great I can almost forgive him shooting a simian. Luckily, he also does interviews, and one in Oz made a fascinating argument against one of my “food critic” idols. I find the way she thought and stitched together words so seductive that I have actually read her late at night and considered getting out of bed and heading out to find grape leaves and mushrooms to bake with garlic. But Mr. Cranky makes the good point that her romanticizing of Mediterranean food, in a country still gasping for real chocolate after wartime rationing, set British cuisine back for decades. His review of the new St. John, scanned and emailed by a friend of ours in London, was caustic enough to make me wonder if he might have been appeased if a shooter’s sandwich had been on the menu. But I do trust his take on the pork & beans, far more than what a critic closer to home said with not even a quarter of his ease with the King’s English.