"When it's done properly, taco should be a verb"
July 21, 2018 8:29 PM   Subscribe

posted by Rash at 8:30 PM on July 21, 2018

posted by zingiberene at 8:35 PM on July 21, 2018

I saw him at the closing of Pok Pok in Chinatown a while back. I patted his shoulder and thanked him as I walked by. I didn’t want to take any of his time and ask for a picture, but he stopped what he was doing and thanked me for a being a reader. The small gesture really showed the kind of person he was and I was starstruck for the rest of the night.

He helped me fall in love with the city when I moved here, and he will be deeply missed.

posted by rosary at 8:36 PM on July 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

Last saw him at Vroman’s a few months ago. Lovely guy and a great damn writer. So sad and shocking.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:38 PM on July 21, 2018

I was also putting together a post so I'll just post it here:
LA Times critic Jonathan Gold died today after a very short battle with pancreatic cancer. He wrote about whole in the wall immigrant run restaurants, breaking the old standard of just reviewing high end places. He loved LA.
He grew up as a musician and wrote about music including N.W.A in 1989. He is the only restaurant critic to win the Pulizer Prize. The 2015 documentary City of Gold is available on Hulu and helped me fall in love with Los Angeles.
posted by Uncle at 8:45 PM on July 21, 2018 [8 favorites]

We were friends. One time we were at a party and it got loud and dance-y and he and I sat outside and talked about writing and cats and the history of dressmaking. He was so thoughtful and kind and unpretentious. I think he was only diagnosed about 3 weeks ago. A lot of us didn’t even know he was sick. It feels fucked up not to be able to say goodbye
posted by zingiberene at 8:47 PM on July 21, 2018 [58 favorites]

posted by Maecenas at 8:51 PM on July 21, 2018

Oh man, what a loss. When I first moved to LA, his reviews, more than anything else, made me excited to be there, because there was always going to be something new to try. The first couple years we were there, we spent most weekends driving all around the county trying places he’d recommended. This was at a time when most of the people I knew had never been to LA, and just sneered at it as a place where nobody walks and everyone worships celebrity. That’s never been the LA I’ve known. Believe me, I’m not exaggerating when I say that Jonathan Gold helped me focus on the reality of LA, that it’s a city and a county with millions of people from all around the world, and a uniquely wonderful place. He wrote love letters to the people of Los Angeles, and bless him for it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:53 PM on July 21, 2018 [12 favorites]

And I’m so sorry, zingiberene.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:54 PM on July 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by dogstoevski at 9:07 PM on July 21, 2018

posted by juv3nal at 9:24 PM on July 21, 2018

posted by stevil at 9:27 PM on July 21, 2018

they need to build a statue of this man and whenever anyone ever spews a stereotype of LA being a vapid, cultureless place, a photo of the statue should be texted 1,000 times to their phone.
posted by wibari at 9:35 PM on July 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

My husband and I have known him as long as we’ve lived in LA, ie over 30 years, and have dined out with him hundreds of times. So sorry for his family.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:48 PM on July 21, 2018 [18 favorites]

damnit, he always steered people right and he always steered them to truly interesting places.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:50 PM on July 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by Red Desk at 10:04 PM on July 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

First time I think I've even heard of the guy, but the best taco I ever had was in L.A. And then I had a few more. And then when everything fell apart and we realized we'd not be getting to Mexico this trip and, in fact, we barely had enough money left for gas to get us back to Canada, we went one more time, stuffed ourselves, then dropped a bunch of speed and deadheaded all the way to Vancouver.

Those tacos sustained us.
posted by philip-random at 10:11 PM on July 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

wibari is spot on. I love this city, and Jonathan Gold helped me fall in love with it, and lolachezia why are you not here right now so we can go out for some dumplings in his memory?
posted by supercoiled at 10:25 PM on July 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by potrzebie at 11:19 PM on July 21, 2018

I was very mad at Mr. Gold when he wrote a review of our favorite unknown neighborhood Italian restaurant (Maccheroni Republic), because in a week it went from "the little place only we know about and we can always get a table" to "the little place that EVERYONE WANTS TO GO TO and we have to stand in line for two hours to get in" (they don't take reservations). I loved listening to him on Good Food. He brought a lot to the city and he highlighted the kind of restaurants that were creating great food but the general public might never have noticed without him.

posted by rednikki at 3:00 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I bought Counter Intelligence a few years ago before a trip to LA, on a friend's recommendation, and managed to visit a few of the places he wrote about.
He celebrated the small and out of the way places, certainly places that tourists wouldn't normally go to.
Thank you Jonathan, your spirit and inspiration will live on.
posted by DanCall at 3:16 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by filtergik at 4:00 AM on July 22, 2018

He wrote about the LA I love and miss and will always call home. What a loss.

posted by Space Kitty at 5:56 AM on July 22, 2018

How very sad. He helped me appreciate the magic of Los Angeles.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:37 AM on July 22, 2018

He really was such a great writer. I hope people who want to write continue to read him and learn from what he could do. This is from a recent burrito round-up:

But what’s more important, the burritos, while ostensibly traditional, differ radically from any others in town. The tortillas are full-fat and extra-large, so that when they hit the griddle they blister and become flaky, resembling at times something like Iranian sangak more than they do anything you might find at Burrito King. When used to wrap the chile relleno burrito, La Azteca’s signature item, the tortilla is gathered into intricate box folds at both top and bottom, so that at least one out of three bites at the thing are into what turns out to be pastry alone. And – I can find no other way to say this – when you work your way to the heart of that chile relleno burrito, you may imagine that you are holding a goblet brimful with molten cheese, which occupies the area both inside of and outside of the roast poblano chile. The vision is at once voluptuous and overwhelming, especially at the moment when you realize that it is impossible to put the burrito down without risking the chance of all that cheese draining out onto the table, which may impel you to consume more than may be seemly – chug, chug, chug – before you finally lower the spent stub.


posted by neroli at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2018 [20 favorites]

posted by notyou at 7:45 AM on July 22, 2018

I'm a native Angeleno, and Jonathan Gold really opened my eyes to the possibilities of food in this global city.

posted by tclark at 7:55 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by nightrecordings at 8:02 AM on July 22, 2018

My condolences to those of you who knew and loved him. As for me, I'm a Midwesterner who unfortunately has not been to LA yet, but boy, did I love reading/listening to Jonathan Gold. He turned reviews into stories, with food and people at the heart of it all. I imagine there are countless others who, like me, had the way they think about and approach food changed by Mr. Gold.

posted by TheFantasticNumberFour at 8:05 AM on July 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am sorry to hear this news. His reviews were the best
posted by SLC Mom at 8:38 AM on July 22, 2018

posted by gwint at 8:46 AM on July 22, 2018

The first dinner I had with J Gold, I was so nervous that I tried to use a knife to cut my soup. The second, a long tasting menu, I asked if he ever took notes during meals. He looked at me and said, "That would be like taking notes during sex." A giant. RIP.
posted by gwint at 8:48 AM on July 22, 2018 [14 favorites]

What an amazing writer. My sympathy to those of you who knew him.
posted by epj at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:23 AM on July 22, 2018

I'm not an Angeleno, but I'm a Californian, a Southern Californian. I've listened to Jonathan Gold on Good Food for years. His version of LA, really Southern California (I took the fact that he consistently ranked the OC restaurant, Taco Maria, among the best in LA for the wink of a true iconoclast) has become my ideal America: sunny, casual, hard-working, both gritty and glamorous, multiethnic, multilingual, varied and delicious. I like to believe it would be everybody's, if only they had the courage, or simply the opportunity, to experience it.

Shit, I'm going to miss him.

RIP, Nervous Cuz.
posted by bunbury at 9:29 AM on July 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

I found out from a link to an L.A. Times article. I was sending it to some friends and ended up writing a mini-essay so I figured why not post it on MetaFilter:

My Anthony Bourdain has passed.

So it's not really the same thing, but Jonathan Gold, the food critic for the LA Times just died (cancer, not suicide, sad in a different way) and I feel like singing his praises to those who knew Bourdain but not him. Because while both men lived lives centered on food, and used food to make sympathetic connections with the world and people around them (read the obit), Bourdain was widely admired but Gold was my brother from another mother.

I have to note the contrasts:
  • Bourdain was dating an international actress when he died; Gold married a fellow free-weekly staffer
  • Bourdain traveled the world; Gold visited every neighborhood of Greater Los Angeles
  • Bourdain was know to struggle with a heroin addiction; Gold went with his kids to ComiCon and flag football
I'm not putting Bourdain down - I admire the heck out of him, wish I could have dined with him, feel the strong loos the world feels at his loss - but he was the showman I marveled at, while Gold was the man I emulate. Both men enjoyed the taco truck and the Michelin-starred restaurant, seeing the contrasts and enjoying them all the more for noting them. We can bring the same mindset to appreciating their lives.

I guess the point I want to make is that Bourdain was obviously fantastic, while with Gold you have to pay attention a bit more to realize how fully he lived the life he chose. I'm asking you to take that slightly stoned frame of mind you once used to notice, really notice, how amazing a dandelion is and apply it to his life. It was pretty amazing.


To add a minor coda, I have a theory that small sparks are what kick the great into the amazing - grace notes to a musical line, the way that Catherine Keener's voice catches a little, the way that Lou Reed says "Just watch me now" in "Sweet Jane", a dash of fish sauce in the soup - it's not the bulk of the substance, but it makes so much difference. In the L.A. Times article there was a brief reference to the two punk bands that Gold played cello in, and the shortest of quotes from his brother:
"Oh, my God, they were so bad," Mark Gold recalled.
I can so easily imagine a friend of mine saying this about me, or me saying it about them, and I realize how Gold just fucking did it anyways and how his brother must miss him right now and I find it beautiful and it breaks my heart and it makes me glad to have a heart that can be broken.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:37 AM on July 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

posted by dubitable at 12:30 PM on July 22, 2018

He helped me to love and appreciate LA. I’m really going to miss him.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2018

A bit more: LA is an amazing city with amazing people from all over the world. Gold wrote about LA in all its culinary diversity. More than any other writer he regularly reminded me how much I love being here. (Apologies to the non-Angelenos here, but it’s a really sad day for us.)
posted by persona au gratin at 2:42 PM on July 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


His book and reviews were essential reading when we moved to SoCal five years ago. Jitlada is now on the calendar for this week.
posted by ovenmitt at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2018

posted by BobtheThief at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2018


I was blown away by the sheer wonderfulness of Taco María, his vote for the best restaurant in Southern California earlier this year, when I went there a few months ago. Mostly he reviewed restaurants in L.A., so I was thrilled that an O.C. restaurant made the list—and the top one, too! It was everything he described. Like many people, I had a copy of his “Counter Intelligence” book, and loved reading his reviews in L.A. Weekly and the LAT (and have been totally in awe of the way he weaved culinary—and other—references together, like the line about a flour tortilla at La Azteca being like sangak referenced by neroli, above) . And now I really must watch “City of Gold.” My condolences to his family.
posted by kentk at 12:29 AM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by spinifex23 at 12:38 AM on July 23, 2018

posted by sagwalla at 10:28 AM on July 23, 2018

He changed the city through his writing. That inspires me.
posted by mecran01 at 6:19 PM on July 26, 2018

I’ve listened to him on Good Food for years, and choked up when I saw the headline. I can’t imagine the loss for you that knew him.
posted by Kreiger at 9:13 PM on July 27, 2018

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