GLOBAL EATING: 50 SHADES OF “MEH”
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