I realized recently that I've been putting a lot more pressure on myself since attending two writers workshops over the summer. I think that's why it's taking me so much longer to finish my reviews. I seriously have like 10-15 of them that I have simply not published. And one of the main reasons is the reaction that my classmates had to a few of my Eat It, Miami reviews that I had polished up and submitted for review and critique. I try to pretend that nothing anyone says hurts my feelings but I'm actually hyper-sensitive and remember everything critical that anyone's ever said to me since I was five.
The instructor asked for a show of hands from the class if anyone would take restaurant recommendations from "the author" and almost no one raised his or her hand. And the reason was that my fellow writers thought that I didn't do enough to describe the food itself. They said I used the words "awesome," "amazing," and "perfect" too much. That those words don't really mean anything. Some of them seemed genuinely surprised that I might get paid to write as I told them I had by UrbanDaddy.
And I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am not a trained gourmet or chef or even a journalist, and my reviews are simply the thoughts of some dude who's telling you about his experience at a restaurant.
The reviews read like a conversation I might have with my friends or family (and I talk a lot, so I might just go on for 20 minutes while everyone just waits for me to stop). I talk about movies and grammar a lot and also boarding school and country clubs. Because I'm a snob who "picked the right parents," as my father likes to say in describing the circumstances that led to my privileged upbringing for which I am genuinely grateful. I regularly thank my parents for paying for me to have straight teeth, for example. And I thank God/the Universe every time I lie down in my comfy bed and with a roof over my head.
So, if you want to hear about velvety, granular, sumptuous vittles and about how the chef did something something something that you would learn how to do in the CIA, like for instance water-boarding, wait a minute, wrong CIA, I meant the Culinary Institute of America, then you've come to the wrong place.
One of the coolest people I've ever met in my life, my classmate Isaac Anderson, who awesomely has the same name as an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler, told me to forget all that and continue to use the words "awesome" and "amazing." Because that's how I would describe a steak to my friends. I'm not Frank Bruni. And I don't want to be.