Should Restaurants Out Food Critics and Give them the Boot?
|Me, with the only known picture of the Elmo Monster...|
But their taking and posting of Virbila's picture is a different monster.
Anonymity among food critics was once a much-treasured illusion--we all know the stories of Ruth Reichl putting on wigs, and critics making reservations under different names. But with the advent of social media, should food critics even bother for anonymity? I still believe in that, but I remember speaking at a UC Irvine class earlier this year where a student food blogger maintained that letting people know you're reviewing them does nothing to change how they're going to serve you, a disturbing thought that, like fraternity initiation rituals and streaking, I attributed to his young age.
I know Edwin zealously treasures his identity, going so far as to not show up to Weekly get-togethers, and I'm amazed that he's been able to keep on his cloak of anonymity for so long. I could've kept that cloak on, but the news side of my writing long ago outed my radio face--luckily, I focus on hole-in-the-walls, where the owners don't care about our paper. Dave and Shuji are also relatively faceless, and they make sure to not be too public about their mugs. But maybe we're old-fashioned like that? Maybe we're in a post-modern era, a McLuhan era where identities now mean nothing?
Oh, and for the record, I don't believe any of us have ever been refused service based on our reputation. I heard rumors that a restaurant once banned me from ever returning, but I wasn't going back there anyway.
Gentle readers: what do YOU think?