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No One Looked at Los Angeles Like Jonathan Gold

The celebrated food critic, who died on Saturday, rejected the city’s clichés by wandering its streets like a culinary flâneur.
Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold in May 2017. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer died on Saturday.
Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold in May 2017. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer died on Saturday. Dan Steinberg/Invision for Los Angeles Times Food Bowl/AP

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.