It’s all bulls**t folks, and it’s bad for ya.
It almost seems that I cannot read a food publication without seeing the word “best” in the title. What does it mean? Who decided that every writer of a mainstream media article is the judge, juror, and executioner on what my palette, and olfactory senses deem extraordinary? Why are these articles not written as opinions? How can I trust your words if they are blatant lies to me? Why does food culture accept this grotesque use of the word “best?” Let us replace “best” with “favorite.”
I read articles or lists, and grow frustrated with the writers because they are biased in many instances. A list of high-end [expensive] or indecorously popular restaurants cannot be the best in every category, nor does celebrity endorsement prove anything. Food is ever-evolving, and fluid, therefore it is hard to pinpoint with any certainty what is the most phenomenal or not. Let us take In-N-Out for example, an excellent California burger establishment [with staying power] who has been named “best” in several categories. Are they really the best the west coast has to offer? If so, then what is one to think of places like: Daglas Drive-in, Hodad’s, The Nugget Bar and Grill, Kahuna Grill, Dogwood Diner, Redrum Burger, and Slater’s 50/50?
I agree that individuals are entitled to their own verbal or written opinion on what they feel is the “best,” as everything is subjective. My quandary is not with individuals, however, but with mass media circuits like: LA Times Food, LA Weekly, The Daily Meal, Thrillist, BuzzFeed Food, Eater, Huffington Post, dineLA, and others who put out the “best…” articles without any unshakable support. These organizations have built a reputation, and brand which causes them to be respected as food authorities yet I feel they guide us down the wrong paths. I do not want the same regurgitated list presented to me in different forms by different authors.
This dilution of the term “best” has to be a mass undertaking. I understand that it is done for SEO, traffic and pagerank. However, at what point did passion for food get replaced by desire for more Google results? When I step out of my role as a content creator, and influencer, and walk in the shoes of Johnnie B. Hungry, I need sources that I can trust to guide me to exceptional experiences, cultures, lifestyles, and culinary prowess. Instead of a list of “101 Best Restaurants in America,” give me a list of 11 restaurants you adore, and eat at often or throughout the year. I do not care about “L.A.’s 9 Best April Openings East of La Brea.” Content and content searches begin with us, not the consumer. If we change the way we write, eventually, they will change the way they search.
This battle between marketing and passion is ours. I will stand boldly and lead, will you join me?
Note: The image above is NOT a collage of my “best” foods but of my “favorite” foods and captures, recently.