The 2015 movie City of Gold follows Jonathan Gold, food writer and critic, through LA as he eats at food trucks, family places in out-of-the way mini-malls, and sometimes high-end restaurants. Gold says he and his car, a truck the size of a small tank, are one entity. So there he is, driving around LA, getting out for tacos and for any number of dishes which I don’t even know the names of, from a million cuisines that immigrants bring to the city. To my mind the film is about discovery and about love, two of the best things of all.
The film could almost make me want to move to LA and just eat my way through the city, as Gold does. It reminds me of some of my summer excursions in the Italian mountains, where we were eating in the kind of place that is called “circolo,” often run just by a single woman or by a family, where the workers who earn a hard living in alpine jobs—in forests and marble caves and so on—get their lunch. The places Gold goes to are like this, entirely out of the way of any Michelin guide or old-style food critic. To eat there is to love the place and to want to get to know its people. And then it comes also with the most delicious experiences. Must see, five stars. *****
Earlier in the summer, I wrote about spaghetti all’Amatriciana and how much it matters to the people from Amatrice that, if you call your dish this way, it had better be true to the original recipe. Meanwhile the city has been in the news for so much sadder reasons, the August 24 earthquake and the shocking destruction resulting from that.
In order to help the people of Amatrice, there is an initiative by the Italian organization Slow Food. They are asking restaurants to put spaghetti all’Amatriciana on the menu and to donate 2 Euros per order. Here’s a map and a list with places that participate.
When Audrey Hepburn, in the movie Sabrina, goes to Paris culinary school, the stern instructors say that the true chef is recognized by her egg cooking skills. Apparently this is a French adage, I’ve heard it any number of times. For the Italian chef, however, there’s another benchmark for the aspiring cook: spaghetti al pomodoro.
If I were to set up a cooking contest, I would ask everyone to prepare three kinds of spaghetti al pomodoro, and only those who serve three delicious meals get into the next round. The hardest version of this task doesn’t permit any ingredients other than tomatoes for the sauce. An easier version permits whatever people feel like adding, as long as the outcome is still very much a tomato sauce. That’s how I’m approaching today’s lunch. I’m adding a tiny bit of prosciutto to the small tomatoes, cut in half, which are the starting point of my quick pasta lunch.
Next comes a splash of cream and fresh rosemarin, cut into tiny bits.
And here’s the kind of easy lunch that’s compatible with a grander dinner. Enjoy!