The temperature of a freshly killed snake…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from Pete Wells.

In my time as features editor at a metropolitan daily newspaper, I developed a taste for finely written reviews. I always had a particular fondness for theatre and restaurant reviews and, I must confess, I usually found the negative ones more interesting than the positive ones.

That said, I counselled the reporters in my department to maintain a neutral tone when giving a negative review. “You shouldn’t sound as though you’re enjoying this,” I said. Writer Pete Wells, pictured above, from the New York Times must have received similar advice from his editors, judging by his May 19/15 review of the restaurant Javelina in Gramercy Park.

Wells excoriates the restaurant but does so in such a faux-cheerful fashion that the review is screamingly funny, even if you don’t live in New York. My favourite line also contained a particularly apt metaphor:

I also stayed alert and sober when faced with the Tijuana Manhattan, made with tequila in the place of whiskey and served in a rocks glass with no ice at all, even though it was the temperature of a freshly killed snake. 

I like the way he uses the image of a snake — a slithery, dreaded reptile associated with Original Sin. Interesting, that he managed to work it into a restaurant review. It’s a food but a slightly distasteful one, which is in keeping with the tone of the rest of his review.

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