Sam Sifton on Authenticity and ‘Seeing the City the Way the City Really Is’

Sam Sifton has proven himself to be a number of things — iPhone app, mad lib, muse, crab-eating amateur — but he is also a man with serious things to say about things like rap music and the ethnographic diversity of New York.

Mr. Sifton sat for an interview with Fader‘s Matthew Schnipper. Mr. Schnipper asked him about authenticity and restaurant reviews. Mr. Sifton said:

We never get tied up in whether Whitey McEuropean is making authentic Whitey McEuropean food. It comes up all the time with so-called “ethnic cuisine” and I think that’s really, really unfortunate … The same is true of music, particularly in the rap world, which is obsessed with questions of authenticity. And does it matter? Probably less than we think.

Does authenticity matter less than we think across the board? Who’s to say! But we’ll give Mr. Sifton that. He also spoke about the array of restaurants he reviews, noting that there are fewer restaurants opening because of the economy.

That said, there are what, 15,000 restaurants in New York City? And of those 15,000, you want to go back and look at some of them and you want to know, is someone resting on his laurels? Has someone been forgotten about? How is that place, anyway? What is the real experience of eating out in New York City in 2010? I’m trying to do a little bit of re-reviewing, a little bit of new reviewing, a little bit of—not of advocacy, but of seeing the city the way the city really is, as more than just the island of Manhattan [see: here].

Seeing the city the way it really is, eh. Wouldn’t that involve drinking Tropical Fantasy on the G train, or something along those lines? Chinese food? Mr. Sifton was reaching. Sam Sifton on Authenticity and ‘Seeing the City the Way the City Really Is’