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Cultural Appropriation in the Modern Age of Los Angeles Dining

Plus new Smorgasburg vendors, plans for Formosa Cafe, and more

Smorgasburg White Guy Pad Thai
White Guy Pad Thai at Smorgasburg
Matthew Kang
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.

Cultural cuisine appropriation in the modern age

As long as food is being cooked, anywhere on the planet, there will be conversations about cultural appropriation. The fact that most cuisines are a long-shuffled amalgamation of different influences certainly doesn’t offer any clarity, and the rise of cooking as a high-profile occupation means more and more people of all backgrounds are drawn to the job. And, sometimes, they cook food that doesn’t match the culinary profile of their own heritage.

Parsing out some of the finer points of it all is LA Weekly, with a new piece yesterday on the ‘White Guy” phenomenon in Los Angeles as exemplified by both the roving trailer White Guy Pad Thai and the White Boy Tacos cart in Downtown. Both are, as you might imagine, helmed by white men seeking to provide their own angle on longstanding culinary traditions, and have run up against some level of friction as a result (they both admit their names cause some of that controversy too). It’s an interesting and in-depth take on a not-so-subtle subject, and includes takes by everyone from the GoldenBoys Chinese duo, locally famous Chinese food enthusiast David Chan, and Lisa Heldke, an author on the subject of cultural food colonialism. Go give the whole thing a read, and then head this way to hear what Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker has to say on much the same topic.

Smorgasburg comes back

As of this Sunday you’ll once again be able to enjoy the feast that is Smorgasburg in Downtown. The marketplace took a few weeks off for the holiday season, but is back with new vendors including the much-lauded Hummus Yummy truck, plus a ton of old stalwarts like Goa Taco and Ugly Drum barbecue. Plus it might be sunny this Sunday, so take advantage while you can.

Outside Smorgasburg
Matthew Kang

A flip for Huntington Beach

Looks like Huntington Beach’s Zimzala Restaurant & Bar has moved on to greener pastures, with new island-leaning concept Pacific Hideaway to take its place. The quick turnaround should see Pacific Hideaway arriving by April under chef JT Walker, with a menu of ahi tuna and rice cakes, whole beer can chicken, and more, as well as craft beer and cocktails galore. 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.

The return of The Essentials

LA Weekly is back with their annual Essentials food festival, this one taking place on March 26 at The California Market Center in Downtown. Besha Rodell curates the party, and presale tickets are now on sale.

What’s next for Formosa Cafe

LA Magazine scores an interview with the guy responsible for leasing out the Formosa Cafe space, and frankly it sounds rather promising. The place got boarded up suddenly a few weeks back but is still fully intact, and if everyone has their way it’ll get a new operator with a keen eye towards preservation. Here’s to hoping.

Welcome to Cow country

Have you stopped in yet to Cow Cafe? The brand new coffee shop serves not only drip and espresso drinks, but also a variety of simple AM breakfast options, from avocado toast on down. The place is tucked onto Pico Blvd. in Downtown Los Angeles, and looks promising for the ‘hood.

We're open! Come by today 7-7 **** #cow #dtla #coffee #cafe

A photo posted by Cow Cafe (@cow_dtla) on