The place of food writers, critics, and an oppressor.

Food critiquing gained relevance among fine-dining lovers long before now. They gained more popularity by visiting major food outlets and reviewing restaurants in newspapers, blogs, and magazines. Food critiquing and food writing have become intertwined that it can’t be separated even though, they operate differently in the minds of those who specialize in the areas.

In this time and dispensation, we see many not only reviewing restaurants but also, delving into reviewing small food businesses which have created a shift in the manner in which food critiquing is done and more so bringing the food people love closer to them through researching, writing and documenting.

Food critics earned the name restaurant critic by reviewing fine-dining restaurants. It is a no-brainer that, critics have been relied on by food lovers to give fair, unbiased opinions about food.
“Food is life” is a popular phrase and it is an integral part of every culture. Most times, critics serve as a bridging gap between the producers of food (i.e Chefs/Cooks) and consumers. By being the bridging gap, they serve the primary purpose of not just popularising or drawing attention to food using their platform. But, could also use the same platform to undermine and disrespect consumers and the indigenous food found in their locality.

Yoruba culture in southwestern Nigeria holds on to respect. Even if the Yoruba culture does not consider gender, it is expected that a younger person in the society respects and reverences someone elderly is it a man or woman.
I grew up not liking most food but never for once did I compare these food items to inedible or unworthy things. I grew up in majorly the southwestern part of the country namely: Lagos, Oyo; Ibadan to be precise, Osun, Ondo, and Ogun state. In these states, their food culture differs even though, they are largely dominated by Yoruba people.
In my formative years, my body rejected “swallows” I observed that I had severe pains after consuming and as a result, I usually have a difficult time after I consume them. It took my body in later years to adjust to meals. I get irritated so easily by slimy food or soups (not that I don’t eat them) but when the situation warrants me to cook for the family I did it in good faith and without prejudice.

People in general, reverence and pay homage to the food of where they come from, and it is expected that as an outsider writing or experiencing a food culture for the first time as well respect it even if you do not respect the indigent or like the food.
It becomes outrightly condescending when objectifying and using rather unwarranted adjectives to describe food. It could be problematic and could be considered oppressive by those who originally own the food. However, there’s a clear difference between being objective as a food critic or writer and being uncouth with one’s view, perspective, or opinion and also being an oppressor.

It is expected of food critics or writers not to disrespect other people’s food. So also, it is important that they experience other people’s food culture and understand its origin and not depend solely on their narrative and perspective.
Since food culture is based on experience, it is expected that food critics or writers judge based on the people’s perspective. People’s culture is very dear to them so is their food culture which is held in high esteem. As a food critic or writer, you cannot tell exactly or describe another person’s culture when you have not experienced it or if it’s a culture you’re only just experiencing for the very first time. Even though, anthropologists suggest that you use the
insider’s perspective when studying culture it is also important that as a food critic or writer you look at food culture as the owners tend to look at it and not take it out of context.

Even as food culture is being experienced and documented it is also important that the experience being published is factual. This is key, as it saves you and your editors the stress of apologizing.
After all that is said and written, if those you wrote about their food culture find some discrepancies and aren’t so pleased with your so-called “opinion” and you insist you were right you are nothing but an oppressor who deems it fit to rather not look at thing from both sides but rather, rely solely on one’s idea and knowledge.


Published by Temitopedancer

My name is ÌyanuOlúwa Fágbiyè Tèmítọ́pẹ́ (Pen name: temitopedancer) I am the founder and team lead at My Cookery Zone. I'm an Anthropologist, multimedia Journalist / broadcaster, food blo gger, and food writer.

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