2023 Author: Cody Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 11:20
The world of food is divided into three categories: who kitchen, who he eats and who writes. Everything else is boring. But while the first two categories are necessary, on the third one often and willingly asks "why".
That is, we can recognize an objective value, a social utility to the modern craft food critic or can we all consider them a mass of leeches, treacherous bread-eaters (sometimes it should be said) who live off the work of others?
In other words, if the usefulness of the food critic has yet to be verified, why do we turn so often to the reviews he writes?
Maybe just to have fun behind his back, to be able to mock him publicly when he has the nerdy and know-it-all appearance of the young Federico Ferrero, already winner of Masterchef, now recycled food critic, who after the unsuccessful slashing of the noble Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence made an encore with Uliassi, a two-star Michelin restaurant in Senigallia.
Or, on the contrary, to be able to "delight" us with his irreverent narration, which the more we are passionate about the more grim and sarcastic it is, snark say the Americans, compared to the more oily and obsequious one, or smarm, of the genre " if you can't speak well of someone, don't talk about them “.
Because negative stories are more compelling than positive ones. This is the same insane preference that causes queuing cars to slow down to see an accident. The slamming is like a revenge, combined with the sense of liberation: after all, it is the turn of another, and in any case the victim manages to obtain justice, summarily. A series of mechanisms worthy of a Van Damme film, essentially uneducational stuff.
But in this world of critics with literary ambitions, do we save someone who really knows how to do their job, which is not writing or entertaining (more or less) pleasantly, but judging a dish?
And above all, can we give an objective value to their indications regarding flavors, which goes beyond personal taste or the slavish homage as well as entanglement towards the chef-guru on duty?
That is, are there any objective parameters in the perception of flavor to which the food critic should refer? After all, if Iginio Massari, the most famous Italian pastry chef is said " the absolute palate ”, Perhaps there will be a reason, even if it does not appear that no one has tested him or subjected him to examination of chantilly and tiramisu with relative final mark.
Let's say that we simply trust him and his competence and authority, while we question that of the good Ferrero as a (relatively) young man, at the beginning (ditto) and with a vague and opinionated nerd face (irrefutable).
In reality, there is an objective help in evaluating the perception of flavor, just as there are canons in judging beauty: as Dissapore has fully indicated, to define and circumscribe the taste of a substance, of a dish, there are various parameters to consider..
- The perception of the five main flavors or senses (sweet, jump, sour, bitter, umami)
- Factors such as stocks
- Mechanical perception
- Painful perception (yes, like that given by spicy)
- Chemical perception
- The persistence of flavor
- The aftertaste
- Even the X factor (no, it's not a joke), the personal one, the indefinable one, the unknown that makes us appreciate even the vegetable soup (yuck) just because the mother made it, a parameter that is not objective at all but has the its weight in the evaluator's perception and that therefore, willingly or not, must be considered.
All these elements must be present in a balanced way in the dish that you are going to evaluate.
If all these elements are taken into account, then we see that the job of the critic is not just to go around the world to revel, often and willingly freezing by virtue of his "status", and then put his impressions in an elegant and reassuring or aggressive and bloody prose, depending on the audience you want to interest or cajole and the allure you want to surround yourself with, but a complex and articulated work that requires attention and dedication.
However, even if attention, care and dedication were proven and ensured - like, we don't know - who would protect us from factor X, from the unfathomable element, from the unknown, from taste, from memories and yes, sometimes even of human error?
We might as well rely on TripAdvisor, where at least we can have a mass of unanimous or disagreements of our own that can at least orient us towards a common "feeling"?
Or, even, to the rampant and varied world of food blogger, made up of legions of improvised, self-styled experts who sell themselves for a free package of spaghetti alla chitarra or a package of wholemeal flour, always a gift from the company on duty?
In reality, perhaps we would do well to trust only the advice of those who will never betray us: ourselves, leaving the stories of food as a pleasant read for when we are in a queue on the highway.
And let's start again: clarified that the slating of restaurants is fun to write and read, who decides which palate is able to judge, and which one belongs to the improvised critic?