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Taster’s Cherce

Crying Tiger Pork

Yesterday, my pal Jon DeRosa hipped me to Jonathan Gold, a famous food writer from L.A. who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work a few years back. I’d never heard of Gold before but a quick goodle search of his columns for the L.A. Weekly was enough to hook me.

I went back into the New Yorker archives and checked out a profile on Gold by Dana Goodyear. Here is Gold at a Thai joint called Jitlada in a strip mall in Hollywood:

Gold started to reminisce about the spiciness of the species kua kling that Jazz had ever served him, the first day they met. “It was glowing, practically incandescent,” he said. “You bite into it and every alarm in your body goes off at once. it’s an overload on your pain receptors, and then the flavors just come through. It’s not that the hotness overwhelms the dish, which is what people who don’t understand Thai cooking always say, but that the dish is revealed for the first time–its flavor–as you taste details of fruit and tumeric and spices that you didn’t taste when it was merely extremely hot. It’s like a hallucination.”

I like spicy food but am a rank amateur when it comes to real spice. I’ve never tried anything as intense as kua kling but agree that beyond the initial shock of hotness, the flavors in Thai cuisine really develop and it is an incredible experience.

I also thought this was interesting:

Eating in the San Gabriel Valley, Gold has observed that, unlike in New York, where immigrants quickly broaden and assimilate their cooking styles to reflect the city’s collective idea of “Chinese food,” the insular nature of Los Angeles allows imported regional cuisines to remain intact, traceable almost to the the restaurant owners’ villages of origins. “The difference is that in New York they’re cooking for us,” Gold told me. “Here they’re cooking for themselves.”

I’m sure there are plenty of restaurants in New York that cook for themselves but I think regional cooking as a reflection of L.A.’s “I vant to be alone” sensibility makes all the sense in the world.

Here is Gold’s 99 Essential L.A. restaurants. Dig ‘em, smack.

[Photo Credit: Jitlada.com]

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Taster's Cherce

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4 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 2, 2010 12:26 pm

Dude, I've just GOT to have something called "crying tiger pork."

DAMN.

I'm going to be a house next time I go to L.A.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jun 2, 2010 12:59 pm

al, you picked the exact passage that hooked me on gold for the first time, "a hallucination."

i used to go to LA all the time w/ 2 co-workers, 1 chinese and 1 korean, and they would take me to some of the places that gold writes about. one place called Living Fish Center.

let me see if i can find a link to that review, it was just the perfect description of the experience.

3 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jun 2, 2010 1:06 pm

Here it is, Gold's essay: Man Bites Prawn

http://tinyurl.com/29lg7wy

4 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 2:53 pm

I pick up the LA Weekly every week, in large part to read Gold's column.

He's fantastic and easily deserving of the Pulitzer Prize that he won.

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