Another day, another New York Times thinkpiece about Los Angeles that seems to miss the mark. Last week’s go-round was focused on all things bread, and the opening anti-gluten headline salvo was enough to get lots of folks in the city taking their own shots online.
The story in question is titled “Los Angeles, Once Gluten’s Heart of Darkness, Emerges as Bread Paradise.” The premise is simple enough: LA is a town that has historically been averse to gluten — perhaps because of the allure of the entertainment industry and its strict body standards? Who can say. Regardless, that’s all changed now, and today there are great bakeries doing great things with bread.
At least the second part of that statement is true, as evidenced by the gorgeous shots of Friends & Family fruit-nut bread slices, pastries at Superba, and tartines at Gjusta. But it’s the first part of the premise, that this is a new (and localized only to hip parts of the city like Venice) phenomenon, that has plenty of people yelling on Twitter. First up is writer Gustavo Arellano, who calls the piece racist and classist, as it marginalizes most, if not all, of the traditional immigrant communities in Los Angeles that have been doing their own breads for generations, and show no sign of slowing down.
2. "Unlikely bakery and bread haven"? Tell that to all the panaderos, Viet baguette makers, Middle Eastern pita people, and Persian sangak locos who have baked MY ENTIRE LIFE— GustavoArellano (@GustavoArellano) March 9, 2018
Arellano goes on to discuss Latino bakers running Jewish bakeries in Orange County, Chinese bao, and more.
Writer Javier Cabral added to the mix online, saying: “Only The New York Times can write a story about L.A. bread culture yet not mention ‘panaderias’ once and/or include Latino pan dulce culture.” Others called the reporting “very narrow,” and not at all representative of greater Los Angeles, or its
Of course, this is far from the first time that the venerable New York Times has seemingly stepped into a bad take for greater California. Critic Pete Wells was roundly criticized for his zero-starred review of do-good restaurant enterprise Locol a while back, while just last month the paper had to take up some extra day-after space just to respond to readers who were incensed by the paper’s coverage of LA’s civic landscape.