Recently I met famous San Diegan, Troy Johnson on Facebook. We are now ‘friends’ and because we can be blunt with each other, I posed the question, ‘So what gives you the right to host this national TV show Crave on Food Network?’ Troypolitely responded that he’d been a food writer for a couple of years and he sent me a couple of links where this alleged writing took place. Sure enough, links took me to some fine writing indeed. Troy Johnson makes me think of a modern Mark Twain. If Twain were trying to make it today, he’d be different. Probably would have never’ve gone west looking for gold. He’d be like Troy Johnson.
Mr. Johnson writes well. I suspect his readership might even grow larger if he weren’t focused on food, but as I’m doing some food writing myself, I’m trying to figure out what that means. I knew at a young age I wanted to write, but I always pictured doing pieces like Cannery Row, or Player Piano.
So why produce literary content focused on such a narrow range? I hear Steve Martin in my head responding as Navin, ‘Because we can.’ Aw come on Steve. This is important stuff. A food critique helps the reader decide where to go for food if they only have a few bucks to spend and don’t want to waste them. I’ve found myself eating at places that I’d never go to again just because… you fill in the blank: bad service; too expensive; food made you sick; got tired of dodging bullets when trying to eat. Or maybe the writer is so effervescent on the subject of eating snails that you decide to expand your range of taste experiences and you discover you don’t like snails but at least you tried, and maybe that effort will lead you to try Brussels sprouts.
Manana’s in Alpine, CA is at 1730 Alpine Blvd. I’ve used carne asada burritos as the standard by which I judge good Mexican food for a long time. I’ve switched to carne asada tacos because I can’t eat like I used to. Manana’s does the best carne asada inSan Diego. I usually get the refried beans and still do, though the quality of the beans is in flux at this location. Sometimes they’re great but sometimes they come out like soup… still eatable but not what I’m looking for. I say go do Manana’s in Alpine if you want to eat till full for only a few bucks. You will be happy.