Here at Haute Plates Heavy Industries and Small Human Production, we like to keep our consumers in the loop. “Transparency” is a word we like to throw around from time to time. We think it sounds good, and according to an infomercial we saw last night while feeding a tiny human female who is incapable of tending to her own basic needs because she is a freeloading four-month-old, it means we ought to share the method behind the madness that constitutes a Haute Plates blog.

So how do we come up with a topic for a Haute Plates blog? That is a good question, and I am glad you asked it, Rhetorical Person! We have been writing Haute Plates for 17 years now, and although most of the blogs were lost in the Great Marshmallow Fire of '02, we have become old hands at coming up with interesting topics. Here's how we do it: Step 1 – pick a topic. Step 2 – write about the topic from Step 1.


So simple even a marginally intelligent lawyer could do it!


But, you ask, what if you can't come up with a topic? Well, Rhetorical Person, I'm not sure I like the tone of your question, but because I like you, I will answer it. Next week.


What about restaurant reviews? Rhetorical person, I begin to tire of your incessant queries, but I give you credit for persistence. Restaurant reviews are the hardest part of what we do here at Haute Plate Industries and Silicone Knee Implant Sales and Service. That's because there are a lot of restaurants in this city. I mean, a lot of restaurants. Haute Plates was not really aware of how many restaurants there were when Haute Plates took this gig. Sometimes Haute Plates is overwhelmed by the sheer number of the goddamn things. Do you know how many new hamburger restaurants opened on Freret St. last week? SEVENTEEN. SEVENTEEN HAMBURGER RESTAURANTS OPENED ON FRERET ST. LAST WEEK.


Sometimes Haute Plates exaggerates. Haute Plates apologizes, and begs for your forgiveness. Haute Plates promises not to let it happen again, and if it does, Haute Plates will totally help you move or give you a back-rub, at Haute Plates' discretion.


Even apart from the scale of the issue, reviewing restaurants is tough work. It was pointed out to Haute Plates some years ago that in order to “review” a “restaurant” one must actually “eat” at said “restaurant.” Haute Plates finds this rule to be arbitrary and unfair, but nevertheless there it is. Haute Plates feels that the use of “ironic quotation marks” gives Haute Plates some leeway in this regard.


Then there is the issue of “taste.” There is a saying about how taste is a personal thing, and it differs from individual to individual. If you can remember the saying, please email it to Haute Plates, because Haute Plates is drawing a blank. Anyway, just because Haute Plates likes something doesn't mean you will. There are few objective ways to measure one restaurant against another, but that doesn't stop Haute Plates from coming up with an annual Top Ten List!


Has Haute Plates mentioned that there are actually guidelines for restaurant reviews? Yes, Rhetorical Person, it's true! A delightful group called the Association of Food Journalists has guidelines on their website. Haute Plates finds the Association of Food Journalists adorable; particularly this part: “The following guidelines for restaurant critics and/or reviewers are just that – guidelines suggested by the Association of Food Journalists. They are not intended to be rules that will be enforced by the Association of Food Journalists.”


There's a relief, eh Rhetorical Person? Because the last thing anyone wants is the hobnailed boot of the AFJ kicking down one's door in the middle of the night to enforce the rules against writing a review without sampling the full range of a restaurant's menu. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of misbehaving writers like a threat from the Association of Food Journalists, let me tell you. It's fortunate they only use their powers for good.


Seriously though, apart from the whole anonymity thing, which Haute Plates blew in 1998, the guidelines are pretty good.


What about press releases, you say? Does Haute Plates detect a hint of sarcasm in your question, Rhetorical Person? Haute Plates had better not detect a hint of sarcasm in your question, Rhetorical Person, because Haute Plates does not enjoy sarcastic questions.


Press releases, since you asked, are the great boon of blogs such as Haute Plates. More than once Haute Plates has said to Haute Plates, “Haute Plates, what are we going to write about today?” “Well, Haute Plates,” we have responded to ourselves, “Perhaps with the judicious application of [control] + [paste] we don't need a subject after all!” Then Haute Plates laughed and laughed and laughed until Haute Plates made itself sick.


Haute Plates enjoys a close relationship with the fine people who issue press releases; at least those who issue press releases locally. Press releases that concern places far from New Orleans are less useful. Haute Plates regularly receives press releases about new restaurants opening in Detroit, for example, and these chap Haute Plates' tender little ass to no end. Haute Plates is sure Detroit is a fine city with a vibrant dining scene, but Haute Plates could not possibly care less and Haute Plates imagines that the same is true of you. Press releases about Detroit, San Jose and Cooking Channel shows hosted by NadiaG are no boon to Haute Plates.


But Haute Plates digresses. Haute Plates senses that you have additional questions. Well, Rhetorical Person, you're in luck, because I would like to introduce you to my friends Bubba and Dwayne the Knife. They are members of the Association of Food Journalists, and they would be delighted to answer any additional questions you might have. In truth, Bubba and Dwayne the Knife are associated with the Association of Food Journalists rather than members, but Haute Plates suspects the distinction won't matter much to you after they get done with your Rhetorical knees.


Au Revoir, Rhetorical Person. Next week Haute Plates will answer more of your questions (assuming you submit them below or by email) and possibly even discuss an actual restaurant.