Monday, June 30, 2014

Why can't we be friends?

Another week in the books, yet another fun tour of Houston food for yours truly. There were some old reliable meals (Paulie's, Pollo Bravo), a return trip to a buzzed about newcomer (Siphon Coffee), a local second chance that mostly paid off (Kurry Walah in Katy), and a pop-up featuring two budding gems in the barbecue world (Pappa Charlie's BBQ  and Feges BBQ). Sitting on the patio at Jackson's Watering Hole, sampling the great smoked meats with friends, I experienced an all too familiar conundrum. Should I converse with Patrick Feges and Wesley Jurena about their craft? Both seem the friendly, jovial type. Certainly Patrick and I have gone back and forth on social media. But alas, I kept my mouth shut. Why? Because of an antiquated idea behind the critiquing of food.

Most people involved in the Houston food community, whether that be in the kitchen, front of house, media or frequent patron will tell you the following: in a city of millions, you often recognize the same people. Being good with faces myself, I'm constantly nudging my wife in restaurants and coffee shops when I recognize a chef or food writer. This past weekend was no different as I saw several familiar faces of the culinary world. To this point I've mostly kept to myself to all of you fine food friends. It's not because I'm unfriendly or overly shy - truth be told I'd probably talk your ear off - it's simply because I want to be able to objectively sample the food and give a completely objective opinion, somehow worried that my judgement would be clouded should I become friendly with the people involved in it. I fear it would be harder to tell you that my dish was overly salted or the brisket a bit underdone should we have a personal relationship.

It has been widely stated (and correctly so) that the restaurants that matter already know who you are and the ones that don't won't care. Some Houston food critics have attempted to remain faceless, others chose to make themselves known. I don't mean for this to sound like I am of any importance in the food world; I operate solely from this small site. But should I ever be a voice that anyone cares about, a part of me wants to hold on to the silly idea of anonymity so that the meal I receive is no different than the person at the next table. I'm sure there are some that already have a good idea of who I am as it's not hard to find these things out in this information age. But for the time being I'll try to keep a low profile. Hopefully the great chefs and people in the industry know how much I enjoy their food and that I have the utmost admiration for their skill, even if they can't quite put a face to the praise.

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