I understand, roughly, what you were going for. Let’s make fun of the rich, and their excesses, hahaha, by sending a writer who has a degree from a top university (specifically, Oxford) to dine at obscenely expensive restaurants and make fun of how ridiuclous they arefor a magazine read mostly by privileged people — because we (the intellectuals) aren’t that kind of privileged people. We’re the good kind of rich, you know, because we publish a thoughtful magazine.
In fact, let’s send this writer to restaurants that normal people, who work in the food industry and actually love food and appreciate how it can be elevated to an artform — an artform which, yes, at times is excessive and outlandish — save up for months to be able to eat at. Because it’s really not just rich people who want to eat at these places, Harper’s; they aren’t just for the 1 percent. And if you think that, then it’s a miracle that you can appreciate Picasso, or Richard Serra, or certainly Jeff Koons.
Sure, the world of food gets really weird, sometimes. It is totally understandable that any diner would be disappointed with these high-end meals on any given night, because they do aim more for bravado than simple, basic flavor. Hell, I’ll take pasta shells with homemade pesto any night of the week, but I still made sure to eat at wd~50 before it closed because I understand that food is an art form, and that top-performing chefs influence all of us and our daily diets. Remember that line in The Devil Wears Prada when the exec chews out her naive new employee, who thinks fashion doesn’t matter — by explaining that the color of her crappy sweater would not exist, were it not for high fashion?
What really pisses me off is that this writer actually seems so incredibly ignorant about the actual importance of issues like sustainably-produced seafood, that she can’t even bear to learn a tiny bit of it in order to write the article. It’s funnier to make stupid, really old jokes about whether the salmon had friends or whatever. (Can we get over the Portlandia thing?) The writer seems that she has never worked in a restaurant, surely — because no former restaurant employee would ever condescend to this extent to people who actually have those jobs. More likely, she is someone who has managed to avoid those kinds of jobs. Perhaps I’m judging her, but then again her “criticism” is full of judgement, so.
And it’s just too bad that those amazing meals went to someone who didn’t have much to say, in the way of actual criticism. It would be really, truly interesting to see what a more thoughtful writer, with sincere interest in food and the restaurant industry, might say given the incredible opportunity to dine at those places.
Also, if the writer declined to drink alcohol at these places, it might be helpful to explain why (because she’s in recovery, according to Wikipedia).
OK, stepping off the soapbox, now. Harper’s, if you need someone to write a substantial, interesting piece about the state of restaurants in this country, whether high-brow or low or in the middle, plenty of us are poised to go.