There are an eerie number of similarities.
I’ve been the partner of an award-winning restaurant critic for the last 16 years.
Literally everyone we meet thinks restaurant criticism is a dream job, but after watching someone else eat for most of my adult life, I can tell you it’s not nearly as wonderful as people imagine.
In a lot of ways, my husband’s job as a food critic is like being a sex worker. No really, just hear me out…
1. He puts things in his mouth for money.
When your job requires you to eat for a living, your entire body is put to use. And while, yes, eating is both a necessary and fun activity, being told when and where and how many times to do it is a bit invasive. You tell yourself that you’re just lending your body for an hour or two, but often fall asleep, ashamed to be a part of such gluttony. I try to remind my husband that he doesn’t have to clean his plate, but that kind of thing invites questions and makes the chef feel inadequate, so it really is best to pretend he loved every morsel.
2. He gets dressed up for work, knowing his clothes will probably be stained by the end of the night.
While the dress codes are a bit different in prostitution and food reviewing, it doesn’t change the fact that something is probably going to spill on you during the evening, and it won’t be pretty.
Trust me. I do the laundry.
3. His health is in a stranger’s hands.
Dining out comes with certain risks, and even if you trust that your chef and servers are dutiful hand washers who never work while sick (ha!), you’re still going to fall ill from time to time, especially if you engage in certain hazardous activities that are not technically required, but make your work stand out from the rest. Doing what others are too afraid to try is part of what gets you hired in the first place. The resulting illnesses are just part of my husband’s job, no matter what precautions he takes.
4. His nights and weekends are not his own.
While everyone else is working for the weekend, my husband is obligated to Saturday dinners and Sunday brunches, often followed by trips to the pharmacy for products to help him recover for next time. Our life is a series of “date nights,” but we can’t ever relax and forget that he’s working.
5. Realistically, it’s not the kind of job anyone can do for the rest of their life.
When you’re young and motivated, the job seems like easy money, but dining out hundreds of times per year eventually takes its toll. From flatulence and meat sweats to obesity and gout, endurance dining is not for anyone with an interest in long-term health, and burn-out is inevitable.
6. He’s lost interest in doing something he used to enjoy.
This is the most tragic aspect of the job. While others look forward to celebrating special occasions at a restaurant, we’ve learned to dread it. At home, we eat the most basic foods imaginable, which leaves onlookers confused. They don’t understand that while they still enjoy a touch of the exotic, the mere thought of one more guinea pig crudo is enough to make my husband dry heave.
So the next time you’re enjoying a delectable dinner out with friends, try to remember that getting paid to do what should come naturally is not always all it’s cracked up to be.
Images via tumblr.com.