Culinary Criticism

During a panel focusing on food writing at last weekend's Tucson Festival of Books, I watched from the audience as the former editor of a renowned food magazine trashed my writing—specifically, last week's review of Janos Wilder's Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails.

She complained that the writing—like the writing in many other daily and weekly newspapers, she said—lacked style. She said the review might as well have been a mere listing of what I ate.

Well, on one hand, it's a shame that this ex-editor isn't around Tucson this week to peruse Yum!, our twice-a-year dining guide. This edition of Yum! is chock-full of food writing with style. I recommend that you check it out.

On the other hand ... I really don't care what this ex-editor thinks.

Instead, I care what you, our readers, think.

I concede that the food-writing in the Tucson Weekly—including my own—could be better, of course, and I'm always willing to listen to constructive criticism. However, this particular piece of criticism struck me as far from constructive and rather out of touch.

The goal of our Chow section and our Yum! dining guides is to show our readers what's going on in Tucson's culinary scene. We do so with word-count constraints and budget constraints that, say, a publication like Bon Appetit doesn't have. We also have a different mission than, say, a publication like Bon Appetit: It's our job to tell it like it is. We don't have the luxury of merely emphasizing the positive, like this editor said she did.

So, readers: Do you have feedback—positive, negative or otherwise—on our food writing? If so, I'd love to hear it; let's get the discussion going.