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Restaurant blogger jailed for saying food 'too salty'

A Taiwanese blogger who deemed a restaurant was both unsanitary and served food that was too salty is reportedly charged with defamation--but only for the salty comment.

Restaurant blogging has many nuances.

You can try, in general, to be constructive, like The Tablehopper. You can try to be artistically idiosyncratic like Orangette or From Lips to Fingers. Or you can decide to make chefs quake in their clogs like Frenchman Francois Simon who once said: "I start judging the minute I come in."

Perhaps that is the set of mind and soul espoused by a Taiwanese blogger (last name Liu) who wandered into a Taichung beef noodle restaurant. If so, it's an attitude that has reportedly landed her her in jail.

You see, the way the Taipei Times tells it, she wandered into this restaurant, had some dried noodles and side dishes, and declared that the food was "too salty." How frightfully critical.

She also reportedly happened to mention that there were cockroaches around the place and that the owner was a "bully" because his parking policy caused traffic jams.

CC DaGoaty/Flickr

You might think that these personal comments about sanitation and character might have thrust her toward incarceration. You might think that Carl's Jr. is the world's finest first-date restaurant.

For the court reportedly declared that the comment about cockroaches was merely factual, not judgmental.

However, as for the salty comment, well now you're talking heinous. A branch of the Taiwan High Court declared that she shouldn't have called the restaurant's food salty, because she ate so little of it and only went there once. For this she was tossed like a lettuce into the clinker for 30 days.

When health inspectors wandered into the restaurant to say hello to the alleged cockroaches, they found that the sanitation situation wasn't quite as bad as Liu had written. She was therefore merely ordered to pay NT$200,000 (around $6,950) to the restaurant for these words.

The restaurant owner, a Mr. Yang, told the Taipei Times that he brought the case because he believed Liu's review had affected his business. He also reportedly wanted to teach her a lesson.

But what lesson did he really teach her? Did he teach her not to say what she really thinks? Did he teach her to go to a restaurant more than once before blogging about it? Or did he teach her that it's OK to have cockroaches in your restaurant as long as they don't actually crawl up the table leg, leap onto your plate, and pretend to be a noodle?

It's impossible to know whether this blogger might have had some personal beef against the owner.

However, though the restaurant business is very tough, (especially) if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you know that restaurants often survive on hype rather than food or service. Very often, it only takes one visit for you to not want to go back again.

It would surely be a difficult day when you can't say that, for example, Chez Papa Resto, Osteria Stellina, and Cotogna all took considerable sums of your money while disappointing you more than the Golden State Warriors. Or that you had to ask for salt at one of those places where they're snooty enough not to put it on the table.

I didn't see cockroaches in any of them. But some of the diners looked a little creepy.