GLOBAL EAT­ING: 50 SHADES OF “MEH”

Friday - - Profile -

He may not have been ev­ery­where, eaten ev­ery­thing – yet – but globe-trot­ting writer Si­mon Ma­jum­dar has plenty to say when it comes to food and travel. Such as: Don’t bother with on­line re­views of restau­rants when you’re look­ing for some­where to eat.

He dis­misses the cit­i­zen critic that writes on the likes of TripAd­vi­sor or Yelp, for in­stance. ‘They are en­ti­tled to say whether some­thing is good or bad, but the art of crit­i­cism is a very par­tic­u­lar thing,’ he says.

‘You have to put food in con­text, you need to know the back­ground. It’s not about “is this tasty?”. That’s ir­rel­e­vant.’

In­stead, ‘I use God’s best tool – I ask peo­ple.’

The right peo­ple, that is. ‘A lot de­pends on the peo­ple. You recog­nise that they have the view­point that would most con­nect with how you look at food. Then you trust them.’

Then, sim­ply, just try places. ‘Here’s the thing: what’s the worst that can hap­pen? You can have a bad meal. Although I am very se­ri­ous about food, I don’t get an­gry about it. But I do get cross when I pay a for­tune and it’s lousy.’

So what are his top places in the world to eat in? Right now, it’s not his home­town of Los An­ge­les. ‘There’s a lot of medi­ocrity. The LA food scene I call 50 shades of “meh”. And it is. It’s a bit of noth­ing­ness. It has a won­der­ful eth­nic food scene, but I find the mid to high-end restau­rants dis­ap­point­ing. I think be­cause a lot is based on hype.’

Which coun­try or city could you say, ‘right now, I know I could get a great meal’, then?

‘In the US, New Or­leans, which I think is the great­est eat­ing city in the US by far. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to find a bad meal in New Or­leans. You have to try quite hard. In the world, I adore Madrid, I think Madrid is one of if not the great­est eat­ing city in the world. And Mum­bai. But Mum­bai is one of those cities, it’s an ex­plo­sion of ev­ery­thing. I love go­ing but you have to make the ef­fort. I also love the food of the Philip­pines, I think it’s one of the most un­der­rated cuisines.’

‘Here’s the thing: what’s the WORST that can hap­pen? You can have a bad meal. Although I am VERY SE­RI­OUS about food, I don’t get an­gry about it. But I do get cross when I pay a for­tune and it’s LOUSY’

Beignets, a sig­na­ture dish of New Or­leans. Si­mon says the city is the best place to eat in the US

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