Ten Things London's Restaurants Can Learn from Los Angeles
And Five Things Los Angeles Can Learn From Us. Words by Jonathan Nunn.
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Ten Things London’s Restaurants Can Learn from Los Angeles (and Five Things Los Angeles Can Learn from Us)
The idea that food in America is innately better than in Britain is, of course, extremely small-time behaviour, stemming from a misguided British talent for self-flagellation and a food culture in thrall to American discourse. Much of this discourse was formed in Los Angeles. It has profoundly shaped American food culture and, by extension, how the world thinks about food and assigns importance to cuisines. Because so much culture is funnelled through America, without Los Angeles, there would certainly not be as much of a global interest in Mexican and Korean food as there currently is; without Los Angeles, we might not have so much of an obsession with regional cuisines; without Los Angeles, we may not have learnt the lesson that great food can be found in the most unexpected urban environments.
Over the last fortnight in Los Angeles, I’ve eaten as much tacos as there are Mexican states, Korean BBQ that takes two runs of dry cleaning to wash out, absurd sundaes and soondaes, things we don’t have in London. Rather than provoke jealousy for what we’re missing, they have revived how I feel about London’s food, as if I had gone to a rehabilitative Swiss clinic. At the risk of being the guy who has spent two weeks somewhere and has come back with Big Opinions, I think there are things about Los Angeles which we would do well to steal, others that we can take heed from, and things about London we don’t treasure enough,. And vice-versa, of course.
My main takeaway, though, was this: the grass is not greener on the other side. The primary topic of conversation among Angelenos who seemingly have it all was the lack of good Indian food in a county of 9.8 million people. If we’re allowed to be performatively mocked for having pistachio and pea guacamole, then we also have the right to point out that LA’s hottest restaurant right now is a sports bar that serves chicken tikka pizza and tandoori spaghetti. And perhaps the biggest thing we can learn is admitting to ourselves that this might just be a great idea.