Eric Asimov, the interim New York Times restaurant critic sandwiched between Sam Sifton and his permanent replacement Pete Wells, published a story last week about his short tenure as a critical diner. Asimov reviewed restaurants before becoming a full-time wine columnist in 2004.
His column compared dining during his first and most recent stint, commenting on the improvement of ingredient sourcing, well-developed wine lists and craft-beer options -- and, of course, the internet.
In addition to Yelp and Eater, Asimov wrote of the internet message boards, specifically Chow Hound and Egullet.
Yes, plenty of inconsequential venting occurred. More important, an astounding breadth of knowledge was displayed that was great for public discussion and for journalists.
This made me sad.
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There were 148 threads on the New York City regional dining conversation of Egullet in the last year. Many of these threads involved reposes numbering in the 100s. At 2:45, Manhattan's Chow Message board had 40 active threads going just today.
I realize that a direct comparison is silly, and that southwestern cities will never draw activity on par with New York, but Dallas has only 21 threads that have been touched this year -- more than Houston's 14, but still dreadfully low. The Egullet message board lists 9 active threads on Dallas and Fort Worth combined for the entire year of 2011.
Where is all the dialogue about our dining culture?
If you believe that discussion drives change and improvement in a dining scene (I do), then what does this level of activity say about Dallas and its love of or interest in food? Maybe Texans express themselves differently and these conversations are occurring in some other forum, unknown to me. (The bar, perhaps?) I wish I knew about it, and I hope City of Ate can provide a little corner, free of random observations on the Patriots' pass defense, for it to develop.