After reading the food critiques from the New York Times and various other places, I found myself very, very hungry. So after I made some lunch for myself, I began to reflect on the topics discussed in the writings. Of course there were very precise critiques given by Sam Sifton, I found the most interesting part to be his food diary and Q&A. I particularly was entranced by two things, A. After all that food how does he still look amazing (even with exercising, I mean c’mon!), and B. his response to having calories on menus.
For starters, I did find the pictures of Sifton at KFC a little creepy, but became very intrigued by his maintained physique. This question has undoubtedly come up, and his response is the excessive exercise he maintains. Sifton never counts calories, yet just exercises based on what his trainer feels appropriate. Which brings me to my next interest, should calories on menus be more utilized?
Sifton argues no, “I don’t want to be thinking, as I do so, about how many calories are in this slice of (delicious!) olive bread, or in that crème brulee or pile of pea shoots sauteed in sesame oil with garlic. And I certainly don’t want to see that information on a menu. Two words that have no place on a good restaurant’s menu: ‘Nutrition information’” (Sifton.) At first, I was a little hesitant to see Sifton’s point. For example, with so much food and so widely available food, many people overeat and could use calories as a guide to help them make healthier choices. People would be more educated on their cuisine and be able to assess the appropriate meal for them based on the nutrition information. Smart eating choices would lead to less heart problems and other chronic diseases, and therefore a healthier society as a whole.
Yet after reading all of Sifton’s Q&As, I realized that the culinary world is very much so a work of art. It isn’t necessarily about providing the best nutritious information.
“Restaurant criticism ought to be about deliciousness and sociology and art. It shouldn’t ultimately be about nutrition, this exchange notwithstanding” (Sifton.) Not everyone eats out all the time, most Americans consider it a treat. Sifton’s job is unique in that he is required to eat out so much, he is required to indulge.
To be honest, I really motivated by the decision to put calories on menus, like here (for example.) Yet I find that the places that do have these listings are often more everyday places, which differ from fancy places. These places are often where families might eat a few times a week, and are looking for some nutritional guidance. Overall, I agree with Sifton that high-end restaurants should not have calorie indicators because it can take away from the unique experience. However, I do find mobile apps and devices helpful for times when I am on a diet. I particularly like “MyFitnessPal” because it’s free and easy to use! Overall, fine dining is a indulging experience that should be enjoyed catch free, and Sifton’s unique situation makes him susceptible to different criticism and inquiry.