While every city has its descriptive clichés, Los Angeles must suffer from some of the worst. “Endless” sprawl, “relentless” sunshine, “glitzy” Hollywood: These words are used so often as the city’s wide-angle establishing shot that it’s easy not to inspect closer. If you drive past quickly, the strip malls and palm trees look like a blur.
Jonathan Gold did not drive past quickly. The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, who died on Saturday at age 57 of pancreatic cancer, wrote about Los Angeles with radical specificity. Through its food, Gold put his hometown in a close-up, helping redefine the way the rest of us talk, write, and reflect on it.