Food smack talk

Hello friends and readers. Hope you aren't feeling abandoned; I can't blame you if you are. It's been a heck of a summer, and fall's starting out on the same goofy foot. Before I get back into the usual swing of things - the intended usual swing of things, not the way it's been lately around here - I thought I'd drop a quick little post on a standoff brewing down in cowboy country.

This comes from Eater, via an October 2 post from the Dallas affiliate:

Uh oh: There's some serious critic-on-critic critiquing going on over at SideDish, where D Magazine restaurant critic Nancy Nichols has just written that Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner "is more of a mean-spirited, uptight writer than she is an insightful dining critic."

Apparently, first shots were fired back in April; it's a Siege of the Alamo-type situation here, and Nichols isn't letting up.

The newest piece from Nichols is centered on a Brenner comment on the pre-opening menu of a new sushi spot in Dallas. In that post, Brenner takes issue with the Toko V menu's characterization of Philly rolls (among others) as sushi classics, stating that they wouldn't even be sushi classics in Los Angeles, to say nothing of Tokyo. This is where Brenner runs afoul of Nichols, though perhaps not in the way Nichols means to emphasize.

Nichols points out how many more people of Asian descent live in a fifty mile radius around LAX (very roughly 1.3 million, using admittedly old data), versus barely more than a tenth of that number around the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area (196k, same as previous - dang federal shutdown!). There are, Nichols writes, "a lot of educated sushi palates in Leslie's hometown."

Whoa, Nellie. What was that last part?

Yes, Leslie Brenner was born in Los Angeles. She arrived in Dallas, Nichols notes, in 2009. Re-read the initial critique of Brenner's take on Toko V, and put on your regional defensiveness glasses. See what I mean? I feel like the first few punches in this fight are swung as a result of "THIS SALSA'S MADE IN NEW YORK CITY!" except food opinions instead of salsa, and California instead of New York City. In other words, Brenner says Dallas has Podunk sushi tastes, and Nichols responds that what does a Valley Girl like her know about Texas and Texas food anyway? Get a rope.

Ugh. My biggest gripe about the whole thing is that Nancy Nichols appears to think Dallas is a city in the Midwest. (What is she, Tony Bourdain?) Bless her for not betraying any of that "sovereign state of Texas" attitude that seems to permeate the state, but honey, Dallas is the Southeastwest, at best.

So I'd like to announce that my next post will be all about how Texas food writers shouldn't be talking about what's in the Midwest and what isn't, because what do Texas people know about the Midwest anyway?

No, not really - but I will be starting a weekly roundup of Midwest restaurant reviews from daily and alt-weekly papers of note. Commentary-free, generally, and meant as a central location for food criticism in flyover country, since no one else really seems to be doing it. That, plus the type of content you've previously enjoyed at Irony or Mayo, will be starting up again soon. Thanks for sticking around.