One of the premier Mexican-American food writers in the country today, Gustavo Arellano of OC Weekly adds some choice words to the debate surrounding the Corn Man piece that Eater LA posted last week. He sorts out the various viewpoints, from other food writers who have been critical of contributor Lucas Peterson's tactics, to Chicano "yakitivists" who have accused Peterson of "columbusing" their neighborhoods.
Arellano's argues that writers shouldn't even have to defend themselves for covering street food, even though he calls the Corn Man feature "sensationalist."
Making a huge buzz about eloteros at this point in the Southern California story is like raving about In-n-Out--been there, done that. Just write about the food, maybe make a note about gentrification, and you're done. [OCW]
In the meantime, Bill Esparza pens a lengthy opinion on this blog about writers covering street food in LA. He also says that there's no need to defend street food coverage despite the consequences.
Lucas, who I don't know, wrote a good story, and he has the right to write about it--no apologies necessary. Furthermore, Eater wrote about a stand---they didn't claim to discover anything or bring it to the masses, it was just a routine story about an elotero, and it's an absurd notion that the article could lead to closing the vendor down. [Street Gourmet LA]
Both end up emphasizing that covering street food will ultimately produce change in the laws that govern it. Writes Arellano: "Government has pursued a scorched-earth policy against street vendors in Southern California for more than a century, but they always end up on the losing side of history--only via exposure, though." Meanwhile, Esparza concludes: "The only way to change the law is for more people to write about, enjoy and share the L.A. traditions of street vending."