A recent review of Tuscany for Foodies caught my attention. The reader evidently thought that there should be more resources listed. Fair enough. But then again, when you make a list of fine restaurants, you can’t list all the restaurants in your targeted geographical area—or even a majority. If you are advising people where to go to get great food, food that is a cut above the rest, it follows that you need to be very selective. (Doesn’t it?)
In any case, I went looking around for comparisons. It turns out that Tuscany is just about the same size as the state of New Jersey. That is to say that Tuscany’s 8,880 square miles compare quite favorably to New Jersey’s 8,722 square miles.
Now, joking aside, I suspect that you can find some mighty good food in New Jersey. I haven’t come across the total number of restaurants in New Jersey, but I can tell you that njrestaurants.com, a site that calls itself a directory and tries to list all New Jersey Restaurants (but obviously doesn’t), lists 162—if I’m adding correctly. Zagat, which tries to list only the ones that are worth eating at if you’re really serious about food, lists 33 New Jersey restaurants worth considering. So, if I were being as selective as Zagat on a restaurants per square mile basis, I’d only list 33 eating establishments in Tuscany. Tuscany for Foodies has over 130 listings.
That seems like a lot. It seems to me that one has the same problem with selection criteria as restaurant owners do with quantity of food. There will always be folks for whom absolute quantity beats quality every darn time. But there is a difference between a gourmet (foodie in modern terms) and a glutton; who you cater to determines your course of action. A directory of all restaurants in Tuscany would be of little use; all a person would have to do is to drive into any decent sized town and stop the car in front of someplace to eat, an exercise that I have little doubt would result in a higher frequency of pleasurable experiences in Tuscany than in New Jersey, but perhaps I am prejudiced by all this stewed wild boar and inexpensive wine.
So how many eating experiences would warrant being listed in a guide to Tuscany? Would you favor a large directory of “decent places” or a smaller list of vetted restaurants whose owners who care deeply about what they put on the plate? You can reply on our Facebook page, if you’re interested in furthering the debate.
(The reader also thought that the listings were ad-driven. I have no idea where that idea comes from. Have you ever seen a small, local place like the Lunigiana’s Spino Fiorito advertised anywhere? Or even a bigger place?)