Food Media

Are the critics usually "right"?

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Are the critics usually "right"?

Tsar_Pushka | | Apr 13, 2009 03:17 AM

I was going to preface this post with a whole analysis on the very premise of this question, but as soon as I realised it was opening a can of worms on the topics of subjectivity, critical theory, aesthetics and every other philosophical conundrum since Socrates scoffed some hemlock (the critics told him it would be good, you see), I gave up.

So here it is, simply: Do professional food critics' opinions of restaurants often align with your own? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why not?

While casting a wary eye at said can of worms, I will simply say this: Yes, often the critics are "right" in my view. Which is interesting, as in pursuits such as music and film for example, I find that perhaps only half the time or less I'm on par with the critics, the other half not. This might be because music and film are more closely intertwined with the "fine arts" where subjectivity plays a larger part. I think when it comes to food, there is something deeper -- perhaps biological -- within people whereby it's easier to agree on what is tasty and what is not. Yet clearly we don't always agree, else critics wouldn't exist.

I live in Sydney where we're blessed with many great restaurants of which I'm privileged to be able to eat out at reasonably frequently. I've found with restaurants the critics bat at maybe 80% with me. This I find helpful, as I follow restaurant reviews quite closely to give me ideas for new places to try and I'm rarely disappointed. Whereas if I strike out on a blind grab, I find I can be often disappointed. Critics are a guiding light for me, but not my only light. Or is it that the critics are influencing my opinion? Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

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