I get called a food snob. A lot. And a wine snob. And a restaurant snob.
I get that that’s supposed to shame me. But I’m in no way ashamed.
Here’s how I feel: I appreciate quality. And quality comes in so many forms. I appreciate the bean burger at Chris Madrid’s, and I appreciate a 5-course meal at Restaurant Gwendolyn. It’s a matter of atmosphere and expectations and momentary desire and price. Those two restaurants seem so different. But in many ways, they’re the same. They’re both locally owned and operated. They both understand their audience and the prices their audiences are willing to pay. They both have an atmosphere that caters to that audience. They both excel at certain things, so they stick to those things.
That’s what I appreciate: places that know who they are, who I am, what I want, how to give it to me, and they do it well.
So, yeah, when I go out for a dinner, I don’t want to go to the Olive Garden, or Red Lobster, or anyplace where I have to settle for mediocrity. And what’s worse in my opinion, universal mediocrity. Red Lobster is mediocre in every city. Every. City. If I’m going to eat something, I like to at least try a local place, or somewhere I’ve never tried before. Someplace where I might be surprised.
This isn’t’ to say that I never eat at chains. I do. Usually it’s a matter of convenience. I’m in a rush and grab a sandwich at Which Wich. It’s Saturday and I’m craving Chik Fil A. It’s my grandpa’s birthday and he wants to go to the Red Lobster. I’ll eat there if everyone else does, or we’re in a rush.
But if given the choice, I will choose to take a risk, the chance to be surprised by something spectacular. And it is a risk. It could suck. The service could be bad. But I’d rather take that risk than settle for what I know will never be spectacular and will always be merely adequate.
So if you ask me for restaurant recommendations, I will definitely tell you about places I like to eat. If you don’t want expensive places, I won’t recommend them. I’m aware that I tend to spend more on food than most people. I know I take food more seriously than most. I’m the one who clutches my pearls at using jarred minced garlic. I know it. It’s because I care about quality. I spend lots of time and money making my own food, and when I pay someone else to do it for me, I expect good food and appropriate prices. So I most definitely will take your preferences into account when I give you recommendations.
But don’t tell me I’m a food snob because I didn’t mention La Madelaine when you ask for good French restaurants. Don’t tell me I’m a restaurant snob because I’d rather go to some hole in the wall bakery than Subway. And I won’t apologize for that.
I won’t apologize or be ashamed for wanting to take a risk on something that could be great. To be quite frank, I won’t apologize or feel ashamed for giving a shit. It’s part of my job. I blog about it. I get paid to do it.
And if that makes me a snob, so be it.