Even though Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jonathan Gold passed away in July, the city is still recovering from the loss. Gold’s presence is felt in what might be his final interview in Purple Diary, where the food writer dished about his favorite subjects: Los Angeles and food.
Available at newsstands, Purple Diary’s Los Angeles issue is a look at Southern California culture. The publication typically places heavy emphasis on food, and looks at art, travel, and fashion. Somehow, Gold manages to tackle all of them, except the latter.
Throughout the interview, writer Emilien Crespo reminds Angelenos of how Gold’s musicianship and music article copy influenced his food writing, when he spent time with N.W.A. before their debut album dropped, how to define California, and plenty more. With that, here are the best lines from Purple Diary’s interview with Los Angeles Times writer, Jonathan Gold.
On the most iconic dishes of Los Angeles: “Would a Kogi taco be one of them? We’re still in the middle of the avocado toast. You can roll your eyes at it, but it’s still everywhere. And the thing is, it’s everywhere in the world by now. But our lawyers are better, and our bread is really f***ing good. There’s a Sichuan dish called toothpick lamb. And it does not exist in Sichuan, of course. A guy did it here. It’s basically a nice, spicy cumin lamb dish. But they stick toothpicks in it so you can eat it as finger food.”
On how winning a Pulitzer impacted his life: “I’m not sure it changed anything. I mean, it made me more nervous. [Laughs] But other than that, more or less the same.”
On how and when New York started looking to LA for inspiration: “In the ‘80s, around the time of the Olympics, there was the first world awareness of Los Angeles as an international city, rather than a pleasant place where movies were made. You had the chefs opening restaurants in places like Paris. And in New York, restaurants were looking to Los Angeles for inspiration. Things that seem old-fashioned now: where to eat, where you pay $ 24 for pancakes.
On whpo are the new leaders of LA’s culinary scene:
“Shibumi, where chef David Schlosser is.”
“I would say that Chef Sang Yoon is doing lovely work right now at Lukshon.”
“Carlos Salgado’s cooking these tasting menus of dishes that are deeply inspired by Mexico, with a high level of finesse.”
On Houston’s come-up as a food destination: “The one that I think is coming out of its own, in a way that nobody expected, is Houston. It has all disadvantage, but it has really strong immigrant populations. It has access to decent food, and people care a lot about it.”
Gold’s biggest complaint about LA living: Although I am very much like the ecstasy of movement, of driving, it is taking longer and longer to get anywhere. That has become a part of life for everybody. I think that’s probably the main one. I do not love to drive.