Monday, July 16, 2012

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Fat, Indolent Foodies

In the July 2012 UK issue of Esquire, restaurant critic and author Giles Coren rants about food writing and a food-obsessed public. Rubbishing his own audience (most of whom surely think he must be addressing someone else), he declares that nobody in Britain can actually read anymore "and they won't pick up a book unless it has pictures of sausages in it." After a quick glance in my office at two full shelves of books about sausages, that stings a bit.

Giles Coren (artist's rendering)
Coren has written the recent How to Eat Out and has reviewed restaurants for 15 years. In the Esquire piece (What's eating Giles Coren?) he excoriates his fellow pork-bellied food writers and does not pause to skewer "foodies" who take issue with his writing:
I'm not one of these wankers who thinks he can tell you how a dish was made or what the chef did wrong, just by tasting it. I'm not going to use bogus pseudo-academic terms like accurate jus" or "well-judged gribiche" or "unanimous mouthfeel". I won't tell you that "my companion plumped for the fish" or give you 10 elbows of gobshite about what the chef here did in a previous life. That's why I get so many complaints from fat, indolent foodies about only getting on to the actual food in the last couple of paragraphs of my reviews. Because my life is much more interesting to me than the best way to poach turbot, and I have to write this shit week after week after week, and keeping it personal is the only way to keep me focused.
He goes on at some length about the tedium and general horribleness of London restaurant review work. It's not the food necessarily — jokes about Britain's bad food are as outdated as jokes about Margaret Thatcher's pearl necklaces — but the work itself that is so soul-grinding. "Jobs are, by their very nature, awful." They are; I agree wholeheartedly. However much Coren may detest his work, he shows no sign of packing it in.

That's reason enough to keep reading Esquire's British edition.

Goes well with:
  • Giles Coren is on Twitter. Check in for further vitriol here: @gilescoren.
  • Esquire UK posts some of its content here.
  • In 2008, Coren flamed out in an irate harrowing of Times sub-editors who changed a single word in his review. His letter to those editors is a snapshot of a man who has lost his mind with rage. Give it a read.
  • I Woke This Morning Thinking of Tits, a bit about a uncommon thought and how it led to AA Gill's review of  L’Ami Louis, "the Worst Restaurant in the World."

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