How can you speak ill of a restaurant if you don't pay?
How can you speak ill of a restaurant if you don't pay?

Lovers of frank, biting, bloodthirsty criticism, aliases of the infamous "slating"? Well, that's all over.

This was announced by "The newspaper" stating without fear of denial that the slating is now "off the menu".

After various articles by Dissapore sul sacrosanct right to criticize even with respect to clubs and restaurants considered untouchable, something must have arrived in Milan from the parts of via Negri (home of the newspaper) which, with an inspired article - let's say this - to some recent posts by Dissapore (identified as "one of the best known cooking blog "but not directly quoted, a return to the past, it was done in 2005) confirms that yes, the negative food criticism, the slating, she is beautiful and dead.

Gone, dissolved, evaporated. Disappeared with the speed of the mercenary journalist who selflessly brushes the dish offered by the shrewd restaurateur in search of media visibility and related cheering criticisms. Derubricated from a gang of prostitutes ready to sell themselves for a deconstructed carbonara or fried egg yolk.

Or at least, so it happened "before".

That is, before - again according to the authoritative newspaper - the advent of a regular in the last posts of Dissapore, the good Federico Effe Ferrero, which has had too much space recently for the indisputable merit of having said out of the mouth what he thought of two starred restaurants (Enoteca Pinchiorri and Uliassi), including flaws and shortcomings.

Article Il Giornale
Article Il Giornale

The newspaper then launches into a philosophical dissertation on profession of the food critic, focusing on a particular category, that of critic sold, a category that today, according to the newspaper, seems to be depopulated at the expense of that, pure and intact, of independent critic.

And to support its line of thinking, the Milanese newspaper involves two well-known names: Valerio Visintin, "The masked critic of Corriere della Sera who goes around Italian restaurants covered in a balaclava and hat so that no one knows his identity" and Paolo Marchi, journalist and creator of the Identità Golose cooking congress.

"Well, there is a problem of independence" - Marchi affirms - there are the pieces stolen on the web, the hustlers, the advertisements. There are invitations, which did not exist before, and how can you speak ill of a restaurant where you don't pay? ”.

It therefore seems that the problem of the cheering sloppiness of modern gastronomic reviews is all there: in the free invitations. In the unseemly habit of restaurateurs of offering free meals to get in the good graces of the critic on duty as well as in the even worse custom of the latter to accept.

In reality, it is difficult to think that the problem is all there, in the simple fact of not paying the bill and not giving up on one's finances, although the economic problem, for those who professionally carry out the activity of gastronomic critic, is not certain. secondary.

The professional food critic, in fact, is not like the pompous amateur who goes once a year to the starred restaurant and feels competent if he spits on it and scoffs at it on TripAdvisor: no, he pays homage to several locals from his visit (as indicated by Dissapore here), delivering hard blows to one's budget, and it is therefore "understandable" that a little help in the form of a kindly offered meal may be appreciated by most.

The problem, however, is another, and it is of a "deontological" type, aka professional correctness from the very beginning: I, a food critic, can remain lucid and objective when I don't waste hundreds of euros out of my own pocket for a top meal, and when, moreover, I am honored with sympathy, cordiality, (similar) friendship, as far as convenience?

Can I, however honest intellectually, although aware that it may be a skilful staging aimed at a favorable review, make a clean sweep of everything to write that the fillet was overcooked or that the service left something to be desired?

No and for a simple reason: to me, a distinguished guest as armed with a pen but above all with a discreet or even considerable following of media visibility, the fillet will always be served cooked to perfection, and the service will always show itself to the maximum.

It will therefore not be difficult to be detached, impartial and objective while remaining sincere and with a clean conscience, as the positive review will necessarily correspond to the objective truth of things and of the treatment reserved for me.

It is obvious then that, as the article reports, one expires in the criticism of an obsequious, servile manner, in a sea of desolation where even the slightest discordant voice, like that of Ferrero, is perceived as a voice crying out in the desert.

But would it really be enough not to accept the infamous invitations to be able to objectively review a place, would it really be enough to visit restaurants and trattorias anonymously, as an "ordinary" customer to issue a sincere, objective and reliable verdict?

Isn't the negative review by Visintin who follows the opening of a new restaurant or pizzeria by now part of a script known in advance?

The world of food criticism seems hopeless, and the article concludes tersely stating that "criticism is no longer needed at the table".

Yet, in this dark sea of human slovenliness and cheap servility (so to speak), some flashes of "courage and autonomy of judgment" can instead be found: they can wear unknown or reassuring clothes, be young or experienced, come from the web or print media.

Perhaps they will be the ones to restore luster and dignity to the most trendy and useless profession in the world: that of the food critic. The problem is figuring out who I am.

Here, who are they?

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