Food follows the cadence of ritual, and that is why it is both sacred and coveted. The sounds and smells of childhood, the longings for home, the patterns of family and familiarity and sweet soft systems; these are the sensations we use to measure everything else. We often define the worth of things with the vocabulary of scarcity: limited edition, luxury, exclusive, rare. Yet it is the everyday things and their excesses – glossed over, not counted, left behind – that reveal what we consume, what we value, what we are. The endless repetition of grocery store shelves and strip mall restaurants; the longing for repetition, for routines, for purity, for the past. A slice, a dog, a pastrami on rye. I love New York.
Los Angeles: cue a Joan Didion line, a Randy Newman lyric, a clique of clichés like a dogeared deck of cards. Car cultures and tent cities, highways as rivers and rivers as concrete. Vacant lots go prehistoric, invasive plants fight for air rights, coyotes feed on cats and chihuahuas. Industry flakes and the scales of a snake, the cult of kale and different ways to say diet. Foraging and farmers markets, mindfulness and meditation, sadistic yogis and the cleansing doctrines of masochists. Cold pressed salvation in a bottle: alkalizer, hydrator, energizer, immortalizer. Like religion, the haze of nostalgia purifies, then demands continued purity. There’s no pizza like New York’s, no bagels, no pretzels. No authenticity, no community, no history, no New York Times. In Los Angeles, Korean tacos and Kanye and Kim, forbidding deserts and forgiving seas and forever palm trees. Bean sprout toppings, pico de gallo dogs, avocado on rye, whatever the fuck you want to do. The sun dissolves into the sea and the blue sky turns orange, then red, then pink, then violet, then black, until it stretches out into the next day. New York distills; Los Angeles absorbs. I love LA more.