London Finds Itself
The pitfalls and possibilities of restaurant maps. Words by Jonathan Nunn.
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On Sunday 28th May, I will be hosting a panel for the British Library’s Food Season entitled ‘London Finds Itself’ about the dynamics of restaurant writing, map making, and the present and future of restaurant criticism. The theme of the talk was prompted not only by my experiences editing ‘London Feeds Itself’ but also recent developments in London’s restaurant writing ecosystem, the insurgent food writing of the Los Angeles based website LA Taco, as well as upcoming projects at Vittles. The following essay outlines some of my thinking for the talk and for these projects – if you are interested in coming, then you can buy tickets via the British Library’s website here.
London Finds Itself, by Jonathan Nunn
Telling someone where to go, rather than what to see, read or listen to, is the almost unique function of restaurant criticism. It shares this quality with one other branch of criticism: architecture; both are obsessed with maps that make the city findable in a Euclidian space of points and landmarks. In a review of the book Brutalist Paris that I recently wrote for Tribune, I note that only maps of brutalist buildings and diaspora restaurants have ‘the power of being able to draw out a certain kind of (white, middle-class, male) traveller from their home and into urban terrains they feel unfamiliar in.’ In this sense, Singburi and Trellick Tower are unlikely cousins.