Starting a new job in Dubai

Oliver Robinson finds a new role is harder than he thought

Last word, The Knowledge

Adjustment. Look it up in the dictionary and it’ll read something like: ‘A correction or modification to reflect actual conditions.’ Sadly, the dictionary definition doesn’t help me with my own adjustments. My ‘actual condition’ is straightforward: I no longer write food reviews for the magazine (well, not quite as many as I used to, at least). My correction and modification, however, has proved rather difficult.

While I’m enjoying my new role as deputy editor (yes, a promotion – no big deal), I just can’t shake the habits I picked up as Eating Out editor. When I first started the job, I had real difficulty fibbing about my pseudonym when booking a table for an anonymous restaurant review. But now I find myself calling to make a reservation and blurting out ‘Randy Savage’, ‘Bret Hart’, or countless other ’90s American wrestlers that I never knew I knew. Cue eye-rolling from my significant other.

Sadly, my reviewing withdrawal symptoms haven’t stopped at table bookings. Before heading out to date night, I grab my wallet, keys, phone, notebook and pen. ‘Just in case!’ I plead, before being frisked, followed by the inevitable confiscation of the notebook and pen.

And it doesn’t stop there. At the restaurant itself, I’ll provide an uninterrupted stream of monotone commentary on the speed of service, decor, lighting, distance in centimetres from one table to the next, tenderness of meat… Cue yet more eye-rolling.

Worst of all, however, are the mental reviews of the Dhs20 Cajun chicken wrap I polished off for lunch (which was, by the way, rather good, though could have done with more seasoning and guacamole), and our weekly Indian takeaway (swift service, as ever, though the kadai chicken needed more cashew paste). Why I continue to order it, I don’t know.

I’ll admit it: I have a problem. But modifying oneself isn’t always easy, and sometimes you have to learn the hard way. ‘The hard way’? Yes, I looked that up in the dictionary too. It reads something along the lines of: ‘Delivering an impromptu, pompous critique on the stir-fry your better half prepares for you after she’s had a long day at the office.’

‘Lacklustre presentation, slow service and unimaginative,’ I chimed. You know the sun has set on your time as a food reviewer when you end up wearing your dinner.

Oliver Robinson is our deputy editor. He’s now more careful with his food reviews than ever.

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