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Writing About Street Food Continues to Draw Criticisms as Legalization Efforts Intensify

One local writer weighs in again.

Lucas Peterson
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

In a recent post over on Zócalo Public Square, longtime food writer and Jonathan Gold scout Javier Cabral doubles down on his opinion that covering street food vendors is morally wrong, and puts the people involved in serious jeopardy.

Describing the practice of writing about public vendors who knowingly consent to having their stories told as "putting people — and their livelihoods — at risk," Cabral spins a story surrounding an unnamed (and unlocated) birria vendor he routinely visits, coyly asserting that he’ll never divulge the details publicly.

It’s important to note that some of Southern California’s most important street food writers, Bill Esparza and Gustavo Arellano, agree that, if done with transparency on all parts, covering street food can (and should) be an important part of the local landscape. It’s already an undeniable focus for thousands of eaters every day.

The larger point that Cabral makes, however, is a salient one: legalization efforts are currently underway in Los Angeles, but they require public support in order to really intensify. Regardless of personal opinions in the current street food writing landscape, a future with a wholly legal system of street food governance should be a citywide priority.