August 18, 2007

Restaurant Critics: Part of the Problem?

Every day I read another restaurant review where the critic associates huge portions with a favorable review. This isn't like global warming or the big bang theory: There's no disagreement that large food portions are wrong for Americans. Avoiding the wrong size of calories and fat is the #1 way to avoid becoming obese.

Yet in every newspaper in America -- save a couple -- the restaurant reviewer falls into the lazy American slogan that bigger must be better. It must be good 'cause it's so damn big.

Just in one article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (I realize it will never win a Pulitzer; still it perpetuates the portion myth), the restaurant critic mentions -- not once, but twice -- in glowing terms "huge portions."

This longtime South Broward favorite continues to delight diners with dependable Indian food. Portions are huge and while fried dishes tend to be a bit soggy, the curries are very good and rice dishes, like biryani, are text book.

If you can live with the enormous portions and sometimes over-the-top conceptions (and Michael Blum's place is packed with fans who can), it's wonderful fun without any pretense to subtlety. Plum-glazed salmon, Asian ribs, turkey meatloaf and Yankee pot roast are all highly recommended.
Don't believe there's any connection. The University of Oregon reported: "Recent studies have shown that there is a higher rate of obesity among...who live in one of four Florida Counties: Broward, Duval, Palm Beach..." Of course the Sun-Sentinel covers Broward county.

But it's not just fat Florida where you find portion flattery.

Head just north of Florida for Atlanta and the Daily Report's restaurant critic -- who, obviously has never been to Italy -- loves the portions.

"Little Italy, lotta food" -- restaurant slogan
We chose the lasagna, which our capable waitress, Autumn, brought to our table within five minutes. It came piping hot with accompanying garlic bread. With just the right combination of pasta, meat and tomato sauce, the dish was larger than we could handle. “For the food and the volume that you get,” says D’Angelo, “you never leave here complaining. That’s where our slogan comes in. You literally get a lot of food. After 13 years, how could we start changing the portions?”
I have been to Italy...many times. Not once in the more than 100 meals did any restaurant approach "lotta food".

I could spend the rest of the day copying and pasting WrongSize restaurant reviews. But it's "hugely" clear that critics must change. It's irresponsible. It's like doctors promoting cigarette smoking. Oh, that's right. Doctors did promote smoking in the 40s and 50s. And it was irresponsible.

Stop the obesity obscenities in newspapers now. You can change the World (and Times and Herald), write your editor!

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