By 9 a.m. this morning, Westword pot critic William Breathes had received at least three e-mails asking how he felt about his "real identity" being outed in the New York Times today by Frank Bruni, the former Times restaurant critic turned columnist. In a piece titled "Colorado's Marijuana Muddle," Bruni had referred to Breathes -- who writes under a pseudonym because he must use his real identity on his medical marijuana patient card (it's the flip of the restaurant critic who uses a fake name to make a reservation and writes under her real name) -- as the "Craig Claiborne of cannabis."
See also: - Marijuana: William Breathes outed as late New York Times restaurant critic? -To follow in Craig Claiborne's footsteps, Gretchen Kurtz needs to get out of Cheesy Creek - Westword has a new Cafe critic
Craig Claiborne, of course, is the legendary, and late, New York Times restaurant critic and food editor -- and his name is likely familiar to most Cafe Society readers. Gretchen Kurtz name-checked him at the start of her So Perfect Eats review with this:
The food editor of the New York Times for nearly three decades, Claiborne etched the rules for the nascent industry of restaurant criticism -- namely, that critics should be anonymous, should dine at an establishment at least twice before forming an opinion, and should not accept freebies of any kind. These notions, though not literally set in stone, remained firmly in place for critics nationwide until food bloggers blasted them apart a decade ago, often passing judgment after one meal, openly accepting free food, and making no pretense of anonymity. Such behavior would surely have elicited a horrified gasp from the father of restaurant criticism. But my selection of So Perfect Eats? I have every reason to believe that Claiborne would have approved.
But outside of the food world, it turns out, his name is not nearly as familiar. And many people now believe that William Breathes actually is Craig Claiborne -- with our without the cannabis. Read about it in, "Marijuana: William Breathes outed as late New York Times restaurant critic?"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.