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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sietsema Roundup

Madcap food writer extraordinaire Robert Sietsema has done it again, this time venturing into Harlem to explore the fish sandwich scene.  After ten years of reading Sietsema, I have no idea how this man continues to journey into every nook and cranny of this city in search of the best food.  One week he's surveying the best roti shops in central Brooklyn, the next week he's writing a roundup of the best Salvadoran pupusa parlours in Staten Island.  I love Sietsema, but I also wonder how seriously he takes himself.   Literally all this man must do is eat and think about eating.  In a very real way this is absurd and a huge waste of time.  Are we really on this Earth to obsess over the intricacies of Bengali goat curries and Ukrainian herring stews? Is Sietsema doing anything to really contribute to society?  Granted, I get enjoyment from his dispatches, and granted plenty of people have jobs which are meaningless and do even less to contribute to society.  But still, there is something gratuitous about Sietsema's writings.

Anyway, to speak specifically of his fried fish escapades in Harlem, I must say Sietsema is prone to hyperbole and needless list-making.  Cafe 22 on Adam Clayton Powell he gives an 86 out of 100, and this place, while the staff were extremely warm, did not serve a particularly good fried fish sandwich.  I also went to United Fried Chicken, which was graded a 67.  The fried fish sandwich I encountered seemed very different to the one Sietsema describes (mine was akin to a McDonald's filet-o-fish while Sietsema discusses a hero).  I actually enjoyed it more than the Cafe 22 sandwich.