Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Gold

In the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, the Literature department offers (and demands, really) a class once a week to hear esteemed and published writers speak. Novelists, spoken word, poets, professors, and even alumni read their pieces to some 50 undergrad students for an hour, and indulge in a Q&A afterward. Though there were days where, at 4pm, all I wanted to do was get home to my apartment after hours of lit analysis, and I tuned the speakers out, there is one in particular who changed my perspective. That reader was infamous food critic for the LA Weekly, Jonathan Gold.
The first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, Gold is the ultimate foodie. In 1986 he launched Counter Intelligence, a column for the LA Weekly about his adventures exploring Los Angeles' ethnic and previously overlooked food scene; one of my biggest inspirations for this blog.  From the LA Weekly he migrated to the LA Times, and then took the big leap in 1999 to NYC as Gourmet Magazine's lead restaurant critic. After 2 years though, he returned to our fair city of angels to continue writing for Gourmet, as well as reviving Counter Intelligence. He currently writes for the LA Weekly with such columns as Ask Mr. Gold, Counter Intelligence, as well as hosting the tasting event Gold Standard (which I still need to buy tickets for). 

When Gold came to read, I wasn't even remotely interested in food. In fact, my attitude towards eating at the time contributed greatly to the title and theme of this blog! Culinary Therapy -- learning to savor food without guilt or baggage, to appreciate it as the art form that it is without wasting time thinking about calories or weight. Gold, of course, had no such qualms. Everything about him was big: his portly frame, his voice, and of course, his passion. He spoke about a seafood delicacy that often turned out to be poisonous, and the way it wriggled down his throat; he related food to sex, simulating and perspiring with the fervor of a true expert. 

Years later, after my eyes and mind were opened by my experiences in Rome and I too fell head over heels for food, I rediscovered Jonathan Gold's columns and his zest for a mean pair of tacos. His list of the 99 best restaurants of LA by year have also given me a full list of places to sample. So far I've tried only a few, but the year is young! Thanks, John, for doing what you do.

Next time, a Jonathan Gold recommended restaurant: Angeli Caffe.


Elisabeth said...

Enjoyed reading the post... such funny photos of Mr. Gold. He certainly has a sense of humor, as well!

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