Olive Garden Lady: Why All the Hate?

Big in online food news this week was a rave review of a new Olive Garden restaurant which opened recently in Grand Forks, Washington.  The reviewer, Marilyn Hagerty, is an elderly reporter who writes various recurring columns for the Grand Forks Herald, including "The Eat Beat," which featured Olive Garden this week.  While we cannot imagine the New York Times food critic endorsing this chain known for faux-talian eats, few cities can top the culinary adventure that is New York.

Though I had the privilege of deciding whether to eat tonight's dinner at a vegan Chinese, vegan Japanese, vegan Korean, or vegan Vietnamese restaurant, many people are lucky if they have even one vegan restaurant within a reasonable distance to home. Of course, I love NYC for its culinary diversity, but everyone has her own personal reasons for living where she does, and who are we, the culinary snobs of the internet, to judge what a person enjoys?

While I found the Gawker responses (http://gawker.com/5891763/a-treasury-of-unironic-olive-garden-restaurant-reviews) to be quite humorous, there's a huge sense of elitism that entitles people to criticism another person's taste.

Hagerty comes off as an honest and excitable woman:  she's easily impressed by the Tuscan interior of her local Olive Garden and appreciates the warm bread sticks that arrive endlessly at her table.  She orders fettucine alfredo and enjoys the presence of a waiter ready with parmesan cheese hovering expectantly over her dish. Are these things so bad? Must we diss those who are impressed by the pleasures in life?

Hagerty labels the establishment "the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks."  Sure, it may not meet up with Manhattan standards, but we have to assume the Hagerty, a longtime resident of Grand Forks knows what she's talking about. Manhattanites, Brooklynites, online New York wannabes: relax. It’s just pasta!