I was recently a judge, the only U.S. representative, at the 8th Annual Mountain Cheese Festival, held this year in the Jura, which is the northwest corner of Switzerland. (Jura refers to a mountainous range in both France and Switzerland.) Along with about 99 other judges, from France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, most predominantly, we tasted cheeses and ranked them from 1 to 15. My category was, “Semi-Hard Smeared Cheeses,” and for four hours I ate bits of about 45 cheeses and judged them across three criteria, which is the point. That is, the criteria were established and agreed-upon by independent judges. (All of us were writers, producers, or buyers of cheese.) The criteria were: Appearance. Texture. Taste. The value of our judgments made me think, again, about the limitations of restaurant and food criticism and the people who write them. Typically, there are no established criteria. (Ironically, since the critics are anonymous and amateurs, Zagat’s comes the closest to having criteria.) Subjectivity is a fine thing, how we live, but when critics are judging without making clear what it is they are judging, the value is diminished. The DSM-IV–Diagnostics and Statistics Manual–in the field of mental health is deeply flawed, but at the very least all its readers know what criteria are used in judging mental illness. Without established criteria for a restaurant review or “best bacon” or “best bagel in NY,” or whatever is being judged, the criticism or the reviews of “best of’s” tells us more about the observer than the subject.