Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Review Review

The WesFoodie does not write reviews for The New York Times. But from time to time I do review the reviews of restaurants in the Times’ Wes Section. Why? Well, the Grey Lady is a force to be reckoned with. When the blue bag hits pavement on weekend mornings, Wesites come running. The restaurant reviews enter the cultural zeitgeist through all of those hungry burban eyes. Criticism is literature no matter how utilitarian its purposes and we all know that literature forms the historical narrative. So lest we allow our story to be writ for us, we must criticize the critics’ works:

On Sunday (4/9) the Times published a menu review of Café Mirage in Port Chester (The Original Times Review). This is a welcome description of the restaurant’s menu: reliable in its faithful cataloging of the kitchen’s oeuvre. The use of classic Asian/Latin food review adjectives lend flare: the broth is “zesty” and “pungency” abounds.

Best of all – there are not one, but two, plugs for Kneaded Bread, the home of cakes and baked deliciousness with which the WesFoodie has a not merely platonic obsession.

Now maybe the WesFoodie’s perception of Port Chester is somehow constructed off the Main Street of reality, but I’m pretty certain that Port Chester is a town where the pastoral sights and sounds of the Byram River have not been culturally or sensuously significant in a long, long time. And this is where the menu review loses its mission, stretches to locate itself in a socio-cultural space (by going on about the sounds of the river and the development, etc…) and winds up falling off the menu and down some imagined rabbit hole.

The development of the waterfront (and Café Mirage, Kneaded Bread and other hot spots) is taking place amidst a tangle of struggling communities, vivid cultural flashes and deeply rooted histories – both personal and public. Port Chester is one tough town. Of course, that makes its culinary riches possible. So why hide it or pretend this great delicious and dangerous village is anything but? Sometimes ugly begets beauty.

1 comment:

Lord Tuttlesby said...

Sir, I find offensive (no matter how accurate) your description of Asians as being "zesty" and Latins being "pungent."