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Everyone's a Critic

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Originally published May 5, 2010.

In today’s food-obsessed culture, even your grandmother probably knows her prosciutto from her pancetta. A glut of culinary magazines, TV shows and, of course, blogs has made non-food professionals conversant with topics ranging from molecular gastronomy to proper plating techniques.

And, in the electronic age, we’ve all got opinions, and we can vent on message boards and review sites, such as the Seven Days'.

Of course, not everyone thinks these “citizen critics” should have free rein to label a business trash or treasure. Professional journalists routinely blast the amateur arbiters, and restaurant owners worry that the voices of a few negative Nellies could make or break them.

To make these citizen critics less mysterious, we decided to interview seven of them and find out what guides their tastes, without lifting the veil of anonymity that allows them to dine out incognito. A couple of these posters have more than 60 comments each to their names, while others have been noticeably eloquent but less prolific. We call them by their screen names, which sometimes coincide with their real names and sometimes don’t.


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