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Monday, August 30, 2010

Jonathan Gold-Rick Bayless Bitchfest Begs the Meaning of 'Authentic'

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Rick Bayless: Introducing authentic Mexican food to L.A.? - WWNORTON/FLICKR
  • WWNorton/Flickr
  • Rick Bayless: Introducing authentic Mexican food to L.A.?
Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

Uh-oh. LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold has made Chicago chef Rick Bayless eat his words, after Gold called Bayless out for saying ― stupidly ― that his L.A. restaurant Red O would (finally, presumably) introduce Angelinos to authentic Mexican cuisine.

Gustavo Arellano, ¡Ask A Mexican! columnist and food editor at our sister pub OC Weekly, went public yesterday with the blow-by-blow:

In particular, Gold zeroed in on Bayless' inclusion of chilpachole ― a glorious seafood soup from Veracruz ― as some rarity, when Gold said the soup was easily available in the Southland, along with dozens of other Mexican regional specialties. Very true: I saw Red O's menu, and you can purchase nearly every meal he offers somewhere in Southern California (and most of them in Orange County, even).
Bayless responded via blog comment that, Pulitzer be damned, Gold is, well, a hack:

First of all I'm incredulous that Jonathan Gold didn't check his facts. I know it's all the rage for journalists to go into unsupported hyperbole, but I never said I was going to introduce Southern California to "authentic" Mexican cuisine. I said I was going to bring the flavors of Frontera Grill to Los Angeles. Which is completely true. I guess getting a Pulitzer doesn't mean your beholden to truth. But I'm sure it made for a "fun" evening for all gathered there. Such is the state of modern journalism.
Bayless's sneering outrage would have been well-placed ― except for the taped interview from KNBC-TV, on which Bayless describes being intrigued, in launching Red O, by "how the true flavors of Mexico, from central and southern Mexico, would play in Southern California." Oops.

But it's Arellano (who, at Friday night's Eat Real Lit Fest, suggested the Bay Area's current interest in street food is a de facto diss of Latino-owned taco trucks toiling in obscurity) who has the final sneer:

Nothing funnier on Earth than outsiders trying to lecture Mexis on what constitutes authentic and real. I like Bayless, and he is a seminal figure in the history of Mexican food in the United States, but nothing better than seeing the king of all food critics take down a giant.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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