Bon Appétit’s new feature piece on Goa lacks a map, cultural context, or any mention of the less-than-savory aspects that have put the Indian state in the news recently. But it does manage to pay homage to just about every cliché of the “lifestyle magazine goes somewhere ‘exotic’” format of food writing.

DON’T … try the street food, which couldn’t possibly compare to the offerings of the area’s upscale restaurants.

DO … sit by the hotel pool and sip a local wine while watching a “sublime” sunset from your “hilltop aerie.”

DON’T … mention the child prostitution. Those traveling in search of underage companionship will probably have figured this out on their own.

DO… throw in a local greeting or expression, making sure to italicize it. “Nustem kitem aslem?” for example, means “What fish did you have?”

DON’T … bring up the fact that the place you traveled to was under a credible terror threat.

DO … include photos of the lovely new boutique hotel! All scathing criticism aside, writers assigned fluffy food pieces about interesting parts of the world run an interesting gambit. If you were writing a piece about New York’s upscale diner restaurants, you wouldn’t be compelled to mention organized crime, 9/11, and giant rats, would you? At the same time, you can reasonably assume your readers already know something about the big (sometimes unpleasant)
picture of the city.

The beauty of traveling to a place like Goa is that there’s a lot of grit, history, and cultural folkways to explore in between your visits to the best-regarded local eateries. Bon Appétit missed the boat this month, but there’s still lots of crazy Goan food and culture to be explored in future trips. Maybe Saveur can handle it.

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