I never met Jonathan Gold, the Los Angeles restaurant critic who passed away a few days ago, but I liked him. He was a larger-than-life presence in our city, but I liked him for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, he loved food — h0w it looked and tasted, what it might mean for a family or group of friends, and he liked the people who grew it, harvested it, prepared it, and then cleaned up after it had been consumed. Food is not singular. It is a universe of connection, often involving a good bit of love and sacrifice. There’s a reason why people of faith often say a prayer of thanksgiving before consuming the first bite of their dinner — the universe of food is holy.
But I liked Jonathan Gold for another reason . . . he celebrated the democracy of food. He didn’t just review the most expensive, most beautiful restaurants in Los Angeles. He did that, of course, but he would also review a hole-in-the-wall taco joint or a little mom and pop ramen restaurant. When he published his annual “Gold 101,” many in our city, including me, used it as a dining road map. He always celebrated the cultural diversity of food, and thank goodness, a diversity of price points.
Take a Breath today. One thing I feel certain about — all of us will eat something today. Do it consciously. Do it gratefully. Do it joyfully. And if you go out to eat this weekend, give thanks for the many people who make our dining possible, including a critic, worth his weight in gold, who pointed us in the right direction.