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.
[Photo Credit: Jitlada.com]