This documentary is about Jonathan Gold, the L.A. Times’ Food Critic that has won a Pulitzer Prize. It is about caring enough for people to try their cuisine, and about how much of a difference one person can make. It is about not being afraid of otherness, but embracing diversity and all the additional flavors it has to offer. It is about not being hesitant to taste things, and not prejudging what you’ve not yet tried. The film is more about Gold and his beloved L.A. and the effect his career has had on the restaurants there, than the food itself, even though it is touted as a movie for foodies.
Gold writes about small little ethnic Mom and Pop restaurants, and is humble enough to eat their Ethiopian grasshoppers–which he said were delicious– or another’s slimiest eel (not so much). His writing opens doors to people going to restaurants outside their comfort zone, as well as helping those restaurants he endorses to survive and thrive. There is a lot of power in words well expressed and widely distributed. Lives are changed, barriers are broken down, and businesses become viable.
All because someone with a heart intelligently commented on something we all do: cooking and eating. This is a basic bottom line through which we can come together and appreciate one another. What makes us different than other mammals, after all? We cook. And this common ground can bring us together through adventurous palettes in venues where we can embrace our delectable differences. I love the practical idealism of the whole thing.
But the movie’s cinematography could have been better. There was too much of the film that was too fast, or out of focus or driving by, mixed together with really beautiful bits. I would have loved to see the food more closely, and it’s preparation more fluidly. There was some eye candy here, to be sure, but there were many missed opportunities for it as well. I can only give this three stars. I recommend seeing it, but there is no need to see it on the big screen.
I come away willing to be more experimental in my own cooking, even though I’m leaning that way already since for dinner before the movie we had tuna fish sandwiches mixed with mashed chickpeas, celery, arugula, tomato, curry, salt, lemon, and Dijon mustard. Not ethnic, but not typical, either. Although I am adventurous within my pescatarian parameters, a lot of what Gold was eating was out of bounds for what I am willing to eat. Still, I come away applauding anyone who breaks down barriers and makes their community more understandable, appreciated, and accessible to those within it.