Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Porno Burrito! I am Suddenly Disconcerted That I've Only Pointed You at Male Restaurant Critics

Here's a first-rate conversation on the topic of the paucity of women in the job.

Here's a sample:

• What, If Anything, Is Missing From the Restaurant Conversation If a City's Major Critics Are All Men?
Ruth Reichl (New York Times, 1993-1999): Are we missing something if we don't have female critics' voices? Absolutely. I do think that women often look at the world in a different way than men do ... If you're going to make a generalization about how men and women experience a restaurant, men tend to see it much more food-first, and women tend to see it more experientially.
S. Irene Virbila (Los Angeles Times): Editors aren't looking as much for thoughtful, nuanced reviews, but something that's provocative and in-your-face. There are more men with a writing style like that than there are women. I'd say of the women critics I've read, they tend to be more alert to what's going on around them and the life of the restaurant.
Mimi Sheraton (New York Times, 1975-1983): The men write differently. They write in a more brazenly, sure-footed tone of voice. I don't want to say belligerent, but there's a hard edge. And yes, I think a woman does see things a man doesn't see.
Besha Rodell (LA Weekly): I probably talk a little bit more about emotion in my reviews than my male counterparts, but that's just me. I wouldn't say another woman would necessarily do that. I know some female critics who use, for lack of a better word, masculine language. I love that writing. I strive to make my writing feel stronger and more powerful.
Devra First (Boston Globe): It's not as if women like salads and men like red meat. But it's not always not true, either. I wonder sometimes, in my writing, if I gravitate towards lighter food, or away from giant food. I think it's possible that women critics think more about the health aspects than men do ... [But] chefs of all genders are becoming more interested in vegetables and the possibilities that they present.

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