Periodically (usually because someone breaches what I think are obvious rules of civility and gentility and honesty about restaurant reviewing) I publish mine which include:
That fact that I do or try to: - Publish reviews of all meals I have had since 2006, in France, Europe and from time to time in America (with whose food and portions I'm still struggling) - Give them ratings from minus 0 to 10 - Provide the cost of each meal, usually for a couple with a bottle of reasonably-priced wine, no bottled water but 2 coffees - Photograph every bottle of wine so those so preoccupied with such will be able to better assess them
I do not: - Suppress reporting bad ratings or bad meals because my readership depends on my honesty and I'm not writing for advertisers - Accept comps (on my first meal) although on subsequent meals, if offered an extra coffee, dessert of digestif, I do (while noting it in my blog) cuz my rating has already been published. - Accept any advertising or outside support excepting the University of Maryland (my academic base), Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins, Stratton and the APPI Press (my publishers) and TIAA-CREF and Childs (my pension-providers).
Backstory: My family is Canadian; my Mom was born, raised and educated in Toronto from family stock that claimed they were descended from the first female white child born in North America (whose cabin is on the "Ex" grounds) and United Empire Loyalists (the geography of such lineage is but the first of many puzzles); my Dad's folks came thru Ontario long enough on their way in covered wagons (as lore has it) to Iowa and then California (excepting Dad) to have Talbotville and Port Talbot still on Google maps - Talbott and Talbot were 18th century or before orthological variations of village priests, clerks and mapmakers.
I spent my glorious childhood summers in Toronto and the Muskoka Lakes, Erieau/Chatham and surrounds with family who were fisherfolk, farmers, slugs and businessfolk, witnessing Japanese and German prisoners of war toiling the fields each day without guards, later to return as the fourth great wave of immigrants (the French, English and Irish having preceded them). And I spent many a winter night watching the Maple Leafs with my Grandad in the owner's box and the Canadiens in Montreal.
My brother is buried alongside my grandfolk.
So I have some claim to feeling Canadian in my blood.
But, when I was a kid, Toronto was a lily-white small village, where everything closed up at 6 PM and food was Brit killed-twice stuff. Now, it's this bursting 6 million multi-ethnic Metropolis with a Chinatown (that existed even then), Koreatown, Thaitown, etc., giving one the best array of ethnic food opportunities outside San Fran and Vancouver - with an 18 lane highway - beat that California!
We think this is our sister-country, just like us, except nicer, more pacific and less militarily and more humanitarianly interventional - same rootstalk, same DNA, same language, same TV stations - some 70-90% living within reach of the border with the US. But it has puzzling paradoxes that were apparent to me on landing today: - The low-cost airline flight attendant spoke perfect French, - The signs are bilingual and have strange words like harbour, lift and lorry, - The customs/immigration people treat people with Yankee passports you like you're an illegal immigrant, Mafioso or Middle-East terrorist, - This "Socialist" country has more capitalistic highway signs, bank buildings and highrises than Hong Kong, and the SIM cards are 10 times that in Europe and - The first time I crossed a street, instead of the polite behaviour of my youth, people honked, jay-walked and ran over curbs.
Hardly the Toronto of my youth.
Paradoxical, puzzling and quite special. Oh Canada! My mother called it "God's country". Maybe it is.
Over the the years, many friends of mine have died - in their twenties of weird melanomas, in their thirties of weird infections and injuries, in their forties of heart attacks, and now that my cohort is really dying off - of everything in every organ.
Over the years I've written about the deaths (I really dislike words like passing) of people who have meant a lot to me - some whom I knew well - like Johnnie Apple (RW Apple Jr.), John Updike and Ted Kennedy but some of whom I've never met, like Sydney Pollack.
Well, I watch no TV; well actually I watch a lot of TV but it's Mezzo and Brava, and over the years I've grown to appreciate Claudio Abbado, especially when he conducted choral works. He looked a bit tired, sweaty and most recently really sick (with a bad disease), but he was a trooper and he kept on creating groups and conducting.
But he also did something I rarely see conductors do - after a piece is over, he not only recognizes the players and the audience in front - he looks up at the folks in the Family Circle/5th tier/whatever.
That's class - M. Abbado, I miss you already, rest in peace. Have a good sleep. Good night. You deserve it.
Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 is undrinkable and I just did the unthinkable.... Let me explain. Yesterday, at a really neat, moderately new and un-New York Times-annointed place, En Vrac, a sort of wine bar plus-bistro a vins-cave a manger, located in a most un-New York Times area (Metro: Marx Dormoy in the 18th), I had a very fine meal with my pal Tahoe Tech, during which he declared that his friends had reported that the Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 was undrinkable. Never one to fink out of a challenge, I then bought two bottles, the first of which I opened tonight. And had one sip of. Yuck! As my son in law has taught me to say - "You're right, I'm wrong, I'll never do it again," But, having poured the first bottle down the drain, what do I do with the second? Leaving it on the street for our local bum seems unethical, throwing it away - uneconomical and returning it unpossible. Randy Cohen, where are you now that we need you?
All the social taboos I grew up with – inter-racial dating, gay marriage, abortion and assisted dying – have fallen because of the will of the people. Maybe with the loss of David Petraeus, cited as the best general officer of his generation, we can begin an intelligent discussion about whether or not personal behavior should affect our estimation of professional performance.
Periodically, I get fed up with the fads in Parisian restaurants and I realized this week that these guys are just as sheepish as the fashionistas who lower or raise hemlines or declare what this year's color will be.
So this winter it's eggs, cauliflower couscous, brunch on weekends and beets, beets, beets.
One ray of individualism; a guy today did what I do frequently with friends, he ordered a carafe of water while his companion had the 8 E bottled stuff.
Picture blurred to protect the innocent who did not give signed permission.
As I entered the Orangerie with about 20 Parisian women of uncertain ages, I noted that 42.5% (I made that up, but it sounds correct) of them were wearing grey blouses/etc., above whatever their dresses/smocks/jeans were colored below. My Lord, worse than rich adolescents in the US.