Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"BBC World Service"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
February 03, 2005
Podcasts

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Best of Baloney

Listen

I was reading Las Vegas Lite the other day.....hey, my mind needed a rest, and it was full of the BEST of this and that of whatever they were trying to sell advertising to that month. Then I got to thinkin' (and no, it didn't hurt, not much anyway).....Yeah I got to thinking what is all this Best Of baloney? I mean come on.....is one dry cleaner better than another? Or plumber, or charity? And what's with inventing categories like BEST TRANSITIONAL FURNITURE-just to curry favor or create a payback? And when it comes to creativity-or anything that can't be exactly measured-how can anyone be so arrogant to proclaim someone or something better than another?

Now I know I've fallen victim to the self-indulgence of naming certain restaurants, dishes and chefs THE BEST. Why you ask? Because it's easy and ego inflating... and because we restaurant critics are always being asked what's the BEST restaurant in town. So we answer, even while knowing it's an unfair question. We're never asked what our favorites are. On any given night my favorite restaurant might be anything from a sushi bar to a steakhouse. If we were honest with our audience, we'd tell them that the statement that something is "the BEST" simply means it's one of the best in a category...or that we simply prefer it to others. A great restaurant in a town of great restaurants (sorry Vegas, we're not there yet) can't be THE BEST, anymore than Rembrandt was better than Vermeer, or (to put it closer to home), one washed up torch singer is any better than another.

I'm not saying that standards don't exist-there's a right and numerous wrong ways to bake a muffin or filet a fish. But once the craftwork is adequate - artistic and personal taste take over. All critics can do is tell you if the craft has been mastered, and what artistic level (if any), the chef or architect or musician is operating at....and if they're hitting their marks. But saying that in a magazine or newspaper, doesn't dumb it down enough for the public-- who want to be spoon-fed everything from top ten lists to the Academy Awards.

Admitting there is no best of anything that doesn't have a finish line or scoreboard attached to it causes two additional problems: one: we admit our fallibility (something no critic wants to do); and two: we disappoint those upon whom we bestow our MAJOR AWARDS. Those folks want to be called BETTER (not just more preferable), than someone or something else. This helps them sell their product. DUH! So I guess all those kudos are good for the giver, the receiver, and the public and are a detriment only to good taste and common sense.

See discussion rules.

Archives

Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

© 2014 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.