Marryam H Reshii: A Good Review Is One That Is Honest
If you've ever looked up places to eat in Delhi, chances are you've read one of her many reviews. Over the last 15 years, she has written extensively about the capital's fast-evolving dining scene. We caught up with food writer Marryam H Reshii to talk about food writing, and that thing you've been looking for -- a food review you can trust.
Food writing and social media
Food writing has not evolved the way it should have been. I must say that almost everything is being documented relentlessly. Everyone is striving to revive lost recipes for there is nobody to fish them out or because some are painstaking to prepare. If you look at it that way the good thing is that recipes won’t be dying out very soon as they are being shared on all forms of social media.
As far as reviews are concerned, they have become fairly meaningless. And it gets worse when food writers and reviewers start demanding favours from restaurants.
A good review
A good review is one that is honest. If the dish on the menu fails to meet the expectations once it is on the table, say so. There was a time when I could do reviews anonymously. But after being in this industry for 15 years, it is very difficult to hide my identity.
A day on the job
In my early days, I had gone to meet the executive chef of a well-known five star hotel for a story that I was doing. To say that he was rude and off-hand is an understatement. I wondered how to make a good escape without completing my questions. When I did flee from there, I asked the PR person who was mortified by the situation. She told me that minutes before I arrived that day, there was a girl from another publication. The chef was giving her a biryani recipe when he said, "take the rice off the fire when it is done". The girl interjected, "how will you know when it is done?" The chef saw red and shouted at his PR person, telling her never ever to call journalists to meet him. He thought all food writers were as clueless as the hapless girl! I was horrified at the time. Today it seems quite funny.
How to ace food writing
Research, research and research! Do travel, taste, take pictures and make notes. Try to notice the links between one cuisine and another; one dish and another. And, never lose the sense of the magic of food.
Worst thing about my job
When you are in the mood to have ghar ka daal-chawal, but you have to step out to eat fancy food. To make matters worse it is not all that good!