Vittles Review of 2022, part 1
A review of myself and about 150 restaurants. Words by Jonathan Nunn.
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A review of myself and about 150 restaurants
I have never kept a journal but I do file my tax return inefficiently, which is the same thing. Every December I spend a day trawling through my entire bank statement for the tax year, revealing an itemised list of food purchases and dates that more or less add up to the self, an Annie Ernaux novel with less fucking and more fried chicken. This year’s return has been an unexpectedly emotionally fraught process, every entry a memory – a purchase for a sausage sandwich is a record of a failed holiday, a beautiful walk through the woods, an important conversation about the future with a loved one; a bill for a meal reveals an argument, a chance meeting, a reconciliation. I barely remember anymore what I was doing yesterday so why does a line stating ‘£25.94 at Aladin’s Kebabish’ bring back, in high definition, who I was with nine months ago, what we talked about, what I was feeling? The different selves I have been have passed through me as quickly as a nihari, but at least there is a record of them here on Excel, my emotion and location tracked like a Panic! At the Disco name generator. Depression! At the Rayners Lane Pakistani Buffet.
The documentary maker Chris Marker once said he couldn’t understand how people who don’t make films remember their lives; for him, cinema had taken the place of his memory. The statements I have used to recall the first half of this year in this newsletter, and the photos of food on my phone that accompany them, serve much the same function. Strangely, for a year in which I co-wrote and released a book on London food, I did not do much writing on restaurants in 2022 that I can draw on to tell you exactly what I tasted and how good it was. I think it’s because I have grown to distrust my own lists and maps. I come back to these seemingly authoritative guides only to violently disagree with the person who wrote them, who is a buffoon and a fraud. Instead, I mostly sent out my recommendations as photos on Instagram Stories, without much value judgement or commentary, here today and gone the next. This has suited me just fine. As much as I’d just like to tell you what the best places to eat are, I think I am also telling myself what I was doing and who I was, mapping out me instead.
Here was my 2022: