Dead horse flogged
A few clarifications about Buford. There are two separate issues here. First, the New Yorker's fact-checking. Yes, people make mistakes.* And even if these are particularly surprising, given the obviousness of the mistakes, the ease with which they can be verified, and the relative quality of the publication, they are not, indeed, the end of the world.
The more important issue** is that Bill Buford*** is apparently going to keep writing stories about restaurants larded with irrelevant excurses on food history that are simply wrong. Remember, this is not an isolated incident: his original Batali piece featured a discussion of fifteenth-century squash ravioli. Since squash is endemic to the Americas (as you'll recall, "discovered" in 1492), this was a problem.
This bespeaks a lack of seriousness on both the writer's part and the magazine's, and that is what bothers me. In the culture of the New Yorker, interstate trucking and the workings of UPS conveyor belts are more important than the history of food. Again, fine; just don't publish shoddy work on the subject you so obviously disdain. I'd be perfectly happy with a weekly Table for Two paragraph on the latest LES shithole plus the odd semi-annual Trillin.
*Of course it's childish to drag all English majors into this, but if the conflation of etymology with history isn't one of their characteristic vices, I'll go 10 rounds with A. J. Liebling.
***I have nothing against Buford personally: I thought Granta was fantastic, as a teenager. I'm not, obviously, amused by the culture of culinary
star-fucking hero worship, but you can hardly hold him responsible.