Today’s the Jewish New Year–Happy New Year, you Jewish people, you–but it’s also, basically, our two-year anniversary of moving to L.A. Last year, around this time, I wrote a post called “One Year in L.A.: A Reflection.” It’s a pretty fascinating thing for me to re-read because, at the time, we were about to go back to New York for Craig to shoot The Skeleton Twins and I could barely contain my excitement. The gist of that post was: L.A. is fine, but I’m a New York boy through and through.
I came to L.A. with the most open of open minds. As New Yorkers twisted up their faces at the news (“L.A.? You’re moving to L.A.?”) I held my head high with secret knowledge. My secret knowledge was mostly food-based. I knew about Jonathan Gold, one of our nation’s greatest food writers, who, in writing for L.A. Weekly and eventually the L.A. Times, had canvassed the city so thoroughly, so meticulously, his writing archives were like living treasure maps that could keep a food-lover like me endlessly occupied. I knew about L.A. farmer’s markets, how the Santa Monica farmer’s market and the Hollywood Farmer’s market would put the Union Square farmer’s market to shame with its year-round, sparkling produce. I knew, like a sports fan evaluating his new home turf, that while my old team had legendary heroes like Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Eric Ripert, my new team had its own share of superstars: Nancy Silverton, Jose Andres and Susan Feniger, to name a few; also, up-and-comers Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, and Michael Voltaggio. Plus: L.A.’s Mexican food, Chinese food, Korean food, Thai food, and sushi are the best you can find in the United States. I held all of this secret knowledge aloft in my brain as I boarded the plane from J.F.K. to L.A.X. with my cat under the seat in front of me and a feeling of endless possibility in my chest.
It’s funny: the smarter I get about the food, the harder it is to figure out what to eat.
Eating didn’t used to be this hard. If I wanted a chicken club sandwich for lunch, I’d eat a chicken club sandwich for lunch. I didn’t worry about whether the bacon came from an industrial pig, about whether the chicken was free-range, about the provenance of the bread, the lettuce, the tomato. I didn’t worry about carbs or fats or nitrates, about having too little protein or too much protein or not the right kind of protein. I just ate and didn’t think about it.