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Barcelona and Milan as members, is a classic example of the national media not letting the facts get in the way of some outdated stereotypes.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).

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8 responses »

  1. Nick Booth says:

    Are not Lyon, Barcelona and Milan all 2nd cities? Is the Guardian writer an idiot?

  2. […] Ignorance doesn’t stop the Brum bashing « Groves Media I am sick of this sort of attitude to our city: “, it is always nice to indulge in a bit of ignorant stereotyping to put these regional upstarts in their place from time to time.” (tags: birmingham_blogs birmingham) […]

  3. […] are bloggers, especially those who read kneejerk reactions (no offence Paul) and reblog them without reading the original piece […]

  4. Paul Groves says:

    I should point out I’m railing against what I regard as lazy journalism, more than the Brum bashing (although it does tend to go hand in hand).
    The irony is, I’m now wishing I had chosen a different headline…doh!

  5. B&B Ludlow says:

    Just for the record, Ludlow has some fantastic cuisine 🙂

  6. Susan Smillie says:

    Hey Paul,
    I think you’re over-reacting a little bit – the post was in no way meant to encourage bashing of the regions – just the contrary in fact (as Rebecca went on in the comments section to point out). I commissioned it as a short piece to get a conversation started about the regions and I do take your comments on board (esp about Delice’s purpose) but we don’t intend every post to be a big lengthy in-depth piece – some are there as short posts, as you rightly surmise, to generate a response from readers – although rather than bashing of the regions, I’m keen to start a conversation about them. More on Pete Ashton’s blog … perhaps I’ll hear from some of you in an attempt to re-balance us London-centrics 😉

  7. Paul Groves says:

    Susan,

    Point taken and I feel a (tiny) bit chastened. I got frustrated about aspects of the article and jumped in without really taking a more considered approach – the very thing I critcised you for, in fact 😉

    Some of my argument still stands and even on 2nd and 3rd reading the article still felt less like an invite for discussion and more of an attempt at saying Birmingham wasn’t worthy of inclusion in Delice.
    But maybe that is due in some small part to being a chippy Welshman exiled in the Midlands.

  8. […] Ignorance doesn’t stop the Brum bashing […]

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