Restaurant reviewers often claim their craft is an art, but is it also the shortcut to undying prose?
"Poets alone are sure of immortality; they are the truest diviners of nature."
So wrote (poet) Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose legacy does indeed include the classic opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night." But food writers who aspire to a similar longevity need no longer torment themselves counting syllables or assessing assonance. The secret to "a small measure of permanence" according to Ralph Gardner Jr. writing in today's Washington Post, is to write a positive restaurant review in a "respected newspaper or magazine"—although, he adds, "my hunch is that any publication will do."
The eatery in question takes it from there, blowing up and laminating the review before attaching it to their window, where it will probably remain until the end of time or the restaurant goes out of business, whichever comes first.
Gardner's own immortal prose includes the memorable line: "We recommend curries and tandoors, which not only taste fresh and succulent but actually improve with age after a couple of days in the refrigerator." He wrote it in the early 1990s, in a short a review of an Indian take-out restaurant on the Upper East Side, and thought no more about it. It is still displayed prominently in the restaurant (and on its homepage) today, nearly twenty years later. Apparently, Ali Choudhury, the restaurant's owner, told Gardner's brother that Ralph is "the greatest man I have ever met."
Restaurant reviewers often claim their craft is an art—Ryerson University in Toronto even offers aspiring critics a course called "The Art of Reviewing"—but in an era of disposable blog posts and Tweets, it may also be the secret to eternal life.