A memoir of a life in food that is as much a reminiscence of family and travel as a discursive account of 20 years of culinary trends and developments.
In the summer of 2000, Platt succeeded Gael Greene as restaurant critic of New York magazine, well aware of the haughty, slightly absurd image the food critic held in the public imagination. The former travel writer was nonetheless a natural “gastronaut.” The son of a career diplomat, Platt and his brothers had grown up at various posts, chiefly in Asia, with stopovers in his native New York as well as Washington, D.C. The Platt family dove into each food world with the gusto of omnivorous feeders. Platt learned early on how to escape the expatriate cocoon and dive into a culture. Little has changed: “I've always equated the glamor of travel and living in far-off lands with the eternal joys of a good meal.” The author fell in love with the theatrical pageantry of restaurants, and he would come to see a critique as “part cultural essay, part personal diary, part service journalism, and part travel and cultural commentary.” A James Beard Award winner, Platt writes that the strange Kabuki world of the restaurant critic, a once-rarefied realm, has given way—for good and ill—to the democratizing influences of social media and internet culture, which he chronicles with some distaste (and grudging appreciation). The self-styled “Grumpy Adam” can be as admiring as he is dyspeptic, but his disquisitions on the art and practice of criticism sometimes slip into excessive self-deprecation. Still, his tone is comradely, offering not only an elegy for a vanished golden era of New York cuisine and the traditional expense-account food junket, but also a lament over the disappearance of so many gifted old-school critics, many of whom have been replaced by manic bloggers.
A candid, entertaining look at an often bizarre new gustatory landscape.