I have never eaten in any of the top 10 restaurants in London, but I think they are all hugely over-rated and not worth the effort.
How’s that for a bit of incisive journalistic comment?
Not impressed? Well, if it is good enough for The Guardian, then it is good enough for this lowly little blog.
The somewhat sniffy way in which the newspaper is dealing with the news that Birmingham has been asked to join a European food network, Delice, that also has the likes of Lyon, Barcelona and Milan as members, is a classic example of the national media not letting the facts get in the way of some outdated stereotypes.
Under the headline and teaser Brum: Britain’s number one? Birmingham is to join Delice, a European food network. Are there not better qualified places?, the author manages to shoot herself in the foot with her opening paragraph.
She gleefully informs us: “I will confess that I haven’t eaten out very often in Birmingham (I had a lot of chocolate there 15 years ago at Cadbury World, which hardly counts). So I can’t really say whether the city deserves either the opprobrium or accolades it’s currently getting, food-wise.”
Wouldn’t it be wise, therefore, to investigate Birmingham’s credentials and then write a more considered and informed article?
Instead we’re told the foodies’ bible (sic) Harden’s has stuck the paring knife into Birmingham’s inclusion in the Delice network and we’re served up a bit of speculation about whether other towns and cities might feel a bit miffed.
The Guardian is clearly trying to drum up some reader reaction by asking us which places we believe deserve an invite to Delice – although we’re not given any insight into what this European network is.
It feels more like a lazy attempt at generating some more bashing of the regions as the reader isn’t given sufficient information about anything to do with the story – which, judging by quite a few of the comments to the original piece, suggests this is what some readers want.
It feels more like an attempt to engineer a response that states that, yes, the likes of Birmingham, Ludlow, Glasgow, Nottingham et al are doing quite well in terms of cuisine, but let’s face it if any city deserves to be part of a food network that includes Lyon, Barcelona and Milan then it has to be the capital.
From the little reading and research I’ve done, far from being any kind of official European body, the Delice network appears to be an initiative dreamt up by the gastronauts of Lyon to promote itself and other cities to foodies and encourage a bit of skills sharing. The fact that Birmingham has long enjoyed partner city status with Lyon suggests it was a fairly obvious and natural choice to be included in the network.
I cannot help but think that, armed with a bit more knowledge about what Delice actually is and that the prestigious network might just lack the sort of cache that was originally thought, a few of the furrowed brows down in London will be considerably eased.
Then again, it is always nice to indulge in a bit of ignorant stereotyping to put these regional upstarts in their place from time to time.
Or, maybe, I’ve just got a big bag of chips on my shoulder?
(Footnote: There’s a rant free update here).