I started writing for the Los Angeles Reader in 1985, and since then I’ve written food and dining -related articles for the Easy Reader, South Bay Lifestyle,The Village View, The Food Paper, LA Downtown News, San Francisco Focus, SOMA Magazine, Patterson’s Beverage Journal, Beach Magazine, The Argonaut newspaper, and other publications living and dead. Though I’ve tried to remove defunct restaurants from this archive, the information in reviews appearing and linked from this site may be out of date. If you run across an article here that is no longer applicable, please let me know.
Culinary History and Food-Related Essays
“The Los Angeles Bakery Keeping Mochi in Temples and Traditions” – The Japanese sweet rice confection mochi is more than a dessert – it’s part of Shinto, Buddhist, and martial arts rituals. A look at a Los Angeles bakery that keeps the traditions alive.
“Culinary Traces of a Vanished Empire” – are Hispanic and Latino cuisine different things? If so, how do you recognize the difference on the menu and on the plate? A look at the complex cuisines left in the wake of the Spanish empire.
“Rescuing St. Patrick’s Day from Myths and Legends” – Put aside the corned beef and cabbage and green beer – they aren’t Irish. Genuine Irish food is much more interesting and much better than the American-Irish version.
“Food, Health, and Politics” – Who decides what food is wholesome enough to be sold, and what is it like to enforce these rules? Officials in the Health Department give few interviews, but were surprisingly forthcoming in this one.
“Invasion of the Juice Bars” – Who opened the first juice bars, and what did they offer that wasn’t available elsewhere? An exploration into the early days of a worldwide phenomenon.
“The Purple Orchid Blossoms” – A story about the tiki bar phenomenon, and the couple behind the Purple Orchid Tiki Bar in El Segundo.
“The Wines of Summer” – How to pair wines with picnics and the dishes we love when the temperature rises.
“The Hollywood Bowl Gourmet” – The art of the gourmet picnic.
“Limo Trip for Weird Food” – If you had a ridiculously large budget and some adventurous companions, what are the strangest things you could eat?
“Secret Eateries: The Dozen Strangest Restaurant Locations In LA” – Dine in high style in a low basement, on a side street, or in a car wash.
“Byzantine Bilingual” – A survey of the Latino/Greek district near downtown LA.
“Dining & Design” – How restaurant architecture changes the dining experience.
“Dining in the Clubs” – A brief explanation of why the food in nightclubs is usually awful.
“Exploring LA Sushi with Carl Chu” – A Chinese-American explains Japanese-American food in Los Angeles.
“My Day in the School of Fish” – A non-Japanese guy goes to sushi school.
“Peak Experiences” – Dining on the mountaintops around LA.
“Burrito History” – Yes, burritos have a history, and it’s far more interesting than you might expect.
“Gambling on Food” – My odds on various cuisines going mainstream. This was written in 1985, and some of it has come true, some hasn’t.
“Mexican Revolution in Los Angeles” – How Los Angeles finally achieved sophisticated Mexican cuisine.
“Critic in an Ideal World” – My fantasy of the perfect restaurant.
“Dining with the Stars” – Where do the stars eat – and would you really want to dine at the restaurants they own?
“The Silent Success of Mexican Chefs” – The creative chefs in restaurants around Los Angeles are often Hispanics who do not get the respect they deserve.
“A Day in the Life of a Chef” – This article on how a chef really spends a day has been adapted for chef training purposes by the American Culinary Institute.
“A Chef’s Secrets” – What can chefs do that you can’t?
Clifton’s Brookdale Lodge Cafeteria – Downtown LA’s Forest Wonderland (Written before the renovations from 2010 to 2015)
You can read recent articles that appeared in the Easy Reader and Beach Magazine by searching from this link:
In addition to my journalistic writing, I have contributed the following:
Encyclopedia of World Food Cultures (Greenwood Press 2012) – entries on Croatian and Colombian cuisine, and the culinary history and anthropology of those cultures.
Oxford Companion to Sweets (Oxford University Press April 2015) – entry on history of rum and how it has been used in candies, cakes, and other sweets.
“Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies” was released in December of 2014 by Rowman & Littlefield. I have a website about the topic at AirFoodHistory.com.
“Rum: A Global History” was released in April of 2011 by Reaktion Books. My website about rum history is at rumhistory.com.