Reader E-mail

42-17090992.jpgI love hate mail. I also love responding to hate mail. So, you’ll have to forgive this rather indulgent post, but I thought I needed to respond to such a well written argument against why I shouldn’t be writing about food.

Blake (who I believe works/worked as a bartender for RA in Arizona) writes:

I am a huge RA Sushi fan and I personally think all of you are idiots! I can actually list 10 reasons why this writer is an idiot:

1. You are a vegetarian. How can you be a fair and balanced food critic.

Holy crap! I AM a vegetarian. All the meat I’ve never tasted. All the chicken stock I’ve never drank. The world is only half complete. What have I been missing?!

It’s a good thing that my girlfriend is a bonafide MEAT EATER. You can ask her. She loves it. She apologizes to me every time she digs into a slab of ribs. She loves it so much that she offers me the occasional bite, so excited by a flavor that she forgets I’m a vegetarian.

So, how can *I* be a fair and balanced food critic? I can’t. But *we* can. She handles the things I don’t eat, much like I go for the more adventurous veggie options that she’s not a big fan of.

But, let’s be honest. If a restaurant, a sushi restaurant no less, can’t handle a simple avocado roll, there’s bigger issues at stake then my life choices.

2. I am almost positive that hostess didn’t ask you for a reservation when the restaurant was completely empty.

Well, almost positive and actually being there when she asked if we had a reservation before looking around to see where she could seat us in the nearly empty restaurant are two different things, aren’t they?

3. Why would you order a potsticker soup if you were a vegetarian. Since you frequent Japanese restaurants, clearly you should know what a potsticker is.

If you actually read my post you’ll notice that I didn’t order the potsticker soup, Katie did. We both know what goes into the potsticker soup because we’re not, as you claim, idiots. And even if I was, I can read the menu.

4. If you a such and amazing critic of food, why aren’t you a chef?

You think I’m amazing? YOU’RE amazing for thinking so highly of me. I never said I was an amazing food critic. I never said I was a food critic, actually. I have said this journal is about discussing the food that the two of us make, discover, and eat; whether it be at home, from the supermarket, or at a restaurant. These are off the cuff thoughts, not critical thinking reviews.

Also, I’m not a chef. I’m a baker. I’m a baker who has some long term goals to open his own bakery. When my place finally opens years from now, you’re welcome to come in and hate on it as much as you’d like.

5. I am sure that you know exactly what goes in the potsticker soup. Why not just say you don’t like it and send it back? Isn’t that what a nice person would do?

That’s a good idea. It’s too bad we never saw our waitress again until she offered us dessert. And to say you know what goes into every restaurants’ soup is just a silly notion. I can go to three different Japanese restaurants and get three different Hot and Sour Soups. The soup at RA! was anemic, and definitely needed either more vegetables or potstickers, or maybe a little less broth.

6. Do you expect that most Japanese restaurants are going to have a WHOLE vegetarian menu. How would they make money. Barely anybody is a vegetarian!

Nope. I don’t expect that at all, at least not from traditional Japanese restaurants. And, you know what, I don’t consider RA! a traditional Japanese restaurant. It’s instead what an American business entity out of Arizona considers Japanese. And the only reason we’re seeing it grow into our area is because the Benihana corporation bought it.

I never said they needed an entire menu dedicated to vegetarianism either. Just a couple more choices. Your statement that a vegetarian restaurant can’t stay in business, though, is just insulting. Real damn insulting. I’m sure that Chicago Diner, Soul Vegetarian, or Alice & Friends up in Chicago would like to have a word with you. They seem to be doing pretty damn good for themselves.

And saying “barely anybody” is a vegetarian doesn’t prove anything. There’s no hard numbers proving how many vegetarians are in America. Some numbers list it at 4% of the population, while others list it at 30% of the population eating meatless items. Vegetarian choices are become more dominant in today’s day and age as people are looking for alternatives to high fat, high chemical products. If “barely anybody” was a vegetarian, there wouldn’t be sections dedicated to them in major grocery stores, like how it was 10 years ago. But, I’d have to say more people are interested in the veggie lifestyle today if I can wander over to Meijer and pick up a full vegetarian meal.

7. It’s the Shops On Butterfield, not the “Streets of Yorkville.” You shouldn’t publish the wrong information if you want people to truly believe your stories!

That one is my mistake. I got Yorktown and Yorkville confused in my writing, as I tend to do. I also get Hillcrest and Crest Hill confused. And I was thinking about “Streets of Woodfield” in the same thought. But, you’re right. It’s “Shops on Butterfield.”

8. “A good sushi chef is like watching an artist with a brush.” Come on, do you really think you are a writer.

Yeah. As did my writing instructors, and resident authors who told me my work was quite good and memorable. Just because I don’t suit YOUR tastes, doesn’t mean I don’t suit other peoples.

9. I have had the Dengaku Tofu before it is tempura sauce and eel sauce not ginger sauce. Since you are a frequent sushi eater you should clearly know what tempura sauce is. It taste nothing like ginger.

From the research I’ve done, which granted hasn’t been much, Dengaku Tofu is usually prepared with sake, mirin sauce (a sweet sake like wine) and dashi soup stock, which is tuna, and not eel.

Not to mention that the RA Menu CLEARLY states: Tofo laced with tempura sauce and finished with a red miso GINGER glaze. Do YOU do YOUR research before commenting on things? Apparenty not.

10. YOU ARE A VEGETARIAN!!!!

I’m sorry that you must have been touched in the “naughty place” or something to have you so worked up about vegetarians, but being a vegetarian has NOTHING to do with the craptastic service delivered to us on our visit there.

Having our sushi rolls fall apart, getting our appetizers after the main course, and having a completely unaware waitress only makes a meal taste worse.

I’d say you got maybe 1 out of 10 in your list proving why I’m an idiot. Some of the other reasons weren’t really reasons so much as statements, which were completely subjective. And others were questions, which can’t be reasons, because they’re not reasons at all.

But, thanks for reading, Blake!

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5 Responses to Reader E-mail

  1. jvalways says:

    if your thoughts on food are as good as your thoughts on hate mail i will eat at every restaurant you recommend.

  2. Roger Ebert says:

    I’ve written and directed multiple hit movies. That’s what make me such a qualified film critic.

  3. SusanV says:

    Hilarious! Your answer to #10 had me doubled over with laughter. Great response to a ludicrous attack.

  4. Claire says:

    The classic question for any “critic” – if you know so damn much, why don’t you do it yourself? Well, obviously any writer who finds themselves articulate enough to criticize a critic for their criticisms (say that three times fast) should follow their own advice and go out to find a spot for their own brand of vitriol. It’s the wonder of the blogging age.

    The best bit, though, is that although anyone has a platform for their thoughts, it’s only those with skill as writers and the logical process of critical thinkers who will, eventually, get read. Giving a platform to mudslinging can be fun (and I must say, cathartic), but comfort comes from knowing that those with less of quality to say do fade into the digital distance. Taking the high ground, all that.

    But there’s a reason we indulge in junk food every once in a while. :)

  5. Sabrina says:

    I know you are credible on your food recommendations. While I am a meateater, I often choose the vegetarian option available at a restaurant. I prefer vegetarian pieces of sushi; however, I love a good potsticker. I love that your blog has the best of both worlds. Eat and write on!

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