Sunday, April 5, 2009

City of Good Food

Choosing a good place to eat in Tartu can quite often be like debating evolution with a Southern Baptist. No matter how much proof you present that the food served is crap, people are still pigheaded in their belief that yes—this is quality food, it’s the only way food can be prepared, and all other cuisines are damned. Yet they still eat pork and bacon and meet gristly deaths at shockingly young ages.

While evolution is a fact, the theory of “survival of the fittest” is not. How else can you explain the continued existence and success of restaurants like Olive Garden and Hessburger? Yet like morality and logic, so too is taste relative. Through education and enlightenment, entire societies can come to the common conclusion that capital punishment is wrong, even though from a more barbaric point of view, it may not be.

Our goal here, at Tartu – City of Good Food, is to offer perspective from a specific point on the spectrum of taste discrimination. Dining out should be an enjoyable experience—for your tongue, nose, ears, heart and bum. And wallet. Let’s not forget that one. The wallet is a surprisingly important tool in restaurant reviewing. Why? Because it is direct evidence of a restauranteur’s passion for the job. If you truly love what you’re cooking, you want it to be available to everyone. If you’re out for cash only, prices are high and the food is of secondary importance.

If you have the possibility to go out only very seldom—like parents of young children—every bit of the experience of dining out is golden. At least it should be. What good is your steak if the waitress can’t be bothered to serve it while it’s still hot? How can you eat a sandwich if there is no soap in the toilet? And why in the world would you pay for condiments?

Like an old stinker smothered in cheap perfume, it is possible to smother bad food with salt and cheap spice mixes. We will attempt to taste beyond that.

I, Mingus, hereby promise to try to eat out once a week in Tartu and tell you all about it. I’ll tell you if you can wash your hands. I’ll tell you if the food is edible. I’ll tell you where the waitresses are hot and polite. I’ll tell you if the clientele chew with their mouths open. And of course I’ll tell you if I plan to go back for more.


Márton Barki said...

at Ungari Köök you cannot wash your hands. On purpose.

soundwhiz said...

Loving this idea, Mingus.

vulturesign said...

Like how you used a once popular, but now abandoned, restaurant in your banner. Unlike New York, London or Paris I am afraid you will soon run out of restaurants to review. Perhaps you could become a general Critic at Large of Everything? Art, architecture, politics, movies, etc. Tartu, City of Good [fill in the blank]!