Posts tagged Los Angeles

Authentic Mexican cuisine

If yesterday’s post on orange chicken (among other things) made you think that I’ve got whole rants ready to go about the ways that people talk about how people talk about Tex-Mex, taco shacks and authentic Mexican food, you — well, you might be right about that.

Let’s take an example of something that’s both real Mexican food and also real USAmerican food at the same time, no matter how much we may try to border off our cuisines into rigidly separated domains. Tamales are the Mexican food par excellance. They are also straight-up USAmerican food. They spread into the U.S. among agricultural workers in Texas and city street food in Los Angeles, San Antonio and Houston. During the early 20th century, tamales spread through migrant agricultural workers from east Texas into the Mississippi Delta, and went up the river, becoming popular (as red hots) in Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago. Red hot tamales are USAmerican food. They’re so USAmerican they showed up in the blues as a metaphor for sex. But when corn-meal tamales, or chili con carne, or tacos, or fajitas, or other food products of northern Aztlan get brought up — especially when they are wrapped up in a cuisine category like Tex-Mex — there are always those who will insist that — because they are Texian, or because they are USAmerican, or because they are part of an immigrant community and a borderland — they somehow aren’t the same thing as Mexican food anymore.

But of course they are. Of course Tex-Mex is the same as real Mexican food. Mexico’s a big country — it’s so big that it even used to encompass Texas — and Mexican cuisine is the food eaten in Mexico and the food eaten by Mexicans as a whole, wherever they may be, not just the stuff that they happen to serve in the Distrito Federal, or in the parts of Mexico far away from the jurisdictional boundary with the U.S. People will insist that it’s important to distinguish Tex-Mex from the many other cuisines that you can find among Mexicans and the many other cuisines you can find within Mexico. And of course that is obviously true; and it’s not snobbish to insist on the point. But the snobbery — where it comes up — doesn’t come up in distinguishing distinctive cuisines. It comes in distinguishing them by putting down the food eaten on the periphery, or in the diaspora — which is what happens when, say, you privilege the food popular in the capital or in favored sub-regions, by calling that Mexican food proper (for example), and claim that the other cuisines are somehow less really or authentically or properly Mexican. This is part of what I was trying to get at a few years back when I wrote Whiteness studies 104: Class, cuisine, and authenticity:

See, the kind of Mexican food you’re used to doesn’t count as incredible cuisine because rustic cooking from border provinces doesn’t even count as a cuisine. Cuisine is what rich people in big cities who use gratuitous French loan-words eat. And the kind of food they make in northern Mexican states like Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California, and in former northern Mexican states like Alta California, New Mexico, and (especially) Tejas,[1] doesn’t count as real Mexican cooking either, because a bunch of farmers and cowboys and immigrants don’t count as real Mexicans. Only rich Mexicans who eat in gourmet restaurants in metropolitan Mexico City do.

In reality, part of the solution to Zwerdling’s puzzle may be that Estadounidenses had trouble with finding this incredible cuisine they supposedly have right across the border, seeing as how those Mexico City restaurants where people eat this kind of food aren’t right across the border; Mexico City is hundreds of miles away from the Rio Grande. If you go right across the border you’ll be somewhere like Juarez or Nuevo Laredo or a little border village, and they’ll be serving those swamps of refried beans … and melted cheese. But NPR-listening white folks in the U.S. of A. are expected to take the very local and peculiar cuisine of Mexico City to represent the real cuisine of the entire United States of Mexico, because NPR-listening white folks in the U.S. of A. have mostly come to believe that world food is arranged not by the messy clustering of ecological, economic, and cultural factors that actually influences how people eat, but rather by the basically military reality of discrete nations separated by fortified political borders. And, having come to believe that, we have mostly come to identify the authentic national cuisine of any given country with the preferences of the rich and powerful people sitting on the political, media, and mercantile centers inside those national borders — that is, the preferences of those who spend a lot of time eating cuisine, and little or no time growing or raising the food that goes into it.

What white people in the U.S.A. generally want, when they have the money to get it, is to eat like rich city people eat all over the world; different countries provide new brands, new spices, and, perhaps most importantly for the sort of white people who listen to NPR, new ways to distinguish yourself from the déclassé white people who don’t know or don’t like or can’t handle the real stuff. Perceived authenticity is the important thing here, and what’s perceived as authentic for any given country — and, therefore, fit for white people in the U.S. to eat — is determined not by culture, but by political economy and the orders of power and wealth.

— GT 2008-10-10: Whiteness studies 104: Class, cuisine, and authenticity

What I’d want to add on to the combo here would be: (1) to underline, again, the cultural twists and turns that Mexican food has made through the U.S. — the rapid spread of tamales from informal-sector street vendors, not only in coastal urban centers but also among (mostly black) workers up and down the Mississippi River valley; the development of mutant strains like the corn-meal tamal, the Sonora dog, and cinnamon-based Cincinnati chili; or, for that matter, the taco-shack fast-food cuisine that Authenticists love so much to hate. And then (2) to note how closely attitudes towards different varieties of Mexican food have been caught up, historically, not only in immigration politics and imperial ideology about nationality and ethnicity, but also in local struggles within U.S. cities over ownership of the cuisine — especially in struggles between informal-sector street vendors and small shop owners, on the one side, and newspaper recipe guides, cook-book authors, entrenched Chamber of Commerce restauranteurs, and other gatekeepers of commercialized culture, especially in northern Aztlan cities like San Antonio and Los Angeles.

And also (3) I’d want to mention some of the weird little ironies that have emerged from those conflicts over ownership when they take the form of local Tex-Mex (say) being deprecated in favor of white Anglophone-curated presentations of self-consciously, self-presentedly authentic Mexican cuisine — the sort of stuff that Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless specialize in.

Of course Kennedy and Bayless are very good cooks, and the culinary movements they’ve promoted have served a valuable role when they have helped introduce a wider variety of foods from central and southern Mexico, and when they have defended the possibility of taking Mexican food seriously as a carefully prepared cuisine. But their way of doing this has typically been systematically to rank down food from the borderlands and food from the diaspora; and to try and present the foods they privilege as authentic in ways that are really pretty elitist and exoticizing. Since part of their rhetorical goal is to distance themselves as much as possible from the over-familiar frontera food, the further you get from the U.S. border, the more authentic the food supposedly gets, and Kennedy and Bayless in particular have developed a fairly strong tendency to disproportionately push distinctively local foods from the far southern states in Mexico — e.g. Yucatecan specialties — as type specimens of authentic Mexican food. Of course there is nothing wrong with getting interested in specialties from southern Mexico, but the irony here, which goes more or less completely unremarked in Authenticist food writing, is that historically a lot of people in the Yucatán and Chiapas do not consider themselves Mexican in the first place, and historically many have not wanted to be part of the Mexican nation-state. There’s a long history of cultural and political conflict between the central Valley and the southern periphery, and since so many view the Mexican political identity as an identity imposed on them by conquest and occupation, the writing often comes off just as if you had a cookbook describing colcannon and bhel puri as prime, typical examples of authentic British cuisine.

Of course, you could point out that one way or the other, southern dishes have come into Mexican cuisine, and they are as good a thing to explore as any. And you’d be right about that — just as you’d be right to say that northern Mexican dishes, border food and local developments within the Mexican diaspora have become an integral part of USAmerican cuisine. Food cultures naturally diffuse, develop, intermix and produce experiments, fusions, local traditions and local mash-ups. Making food has always been an activity both of care and also of boldness, of repetition and innovation at the same time and within the same dish. Cultures naturally diffuse, naturally grow inward and also reach outward. For all that they resonate with locale and community and language and place and social relationships and shared identities, they always overflow the lines that are drawn around them; culture does not neatly obey borders, or class divisions, and cultures (including food cultures) constantly experiment with, redefine, challenge, borrow, appropriate, re-use, re-make, erase, and rewrite the formations that they themselves are supposed to spring from. Authenticism is necessarily a bogus discipline because it begins by presuming that there is a unitary, hermetic, discoverable and conveniently identity-based food culture to be authentic to. Mexican food is the food of Mexico and of Mexicans wherever they may be, and it is no less complicated, no less multifaceted, no less riven with internal divisions, no less open to external contact and influence and experimentation, and no more confined to a single nation-state than are the people who make it and eat it. Fancy food from D.F. is real Mexican food. Street food from Michoacan is real Mexican food. Banana-leaf tamales from the far south are real Mexican food. Corn-husk tamales from San Antonio, burritos from the Mission District, tortilla soup, menudo, tacos from Roberto’s are all real Mexican food. Some of these are USAmerican food too. And we are all much richer and better for being open to the un-tidy, non-exclusive, profoundly human mess that cultures constantly make as they spread and flop all over the ridiculous lines that we try to draw on maps.

  1. [1] Because southern and central Texas were especially important to the development and spread of this kind of food, it’s often been tagged as Tex-Mex — although a lot of what gets tagged as Tex-Mex is really common to northern Mexico in general, and a lot of it comes in distinctive styles that come out of other old population centers, especially in California and around Santa Fe.

Public Safety (Cont’d)

There was more news released today on the police-on-police manhunt in Los Angeles, and the out-of-control police violence and jumping-the-gun overkill shootings in Torrance, California, which I mentioned previously the other day Now it turns out that they lit up not just one completely innocent pick-up driver, but two. Emphasis added.

David Perdue was on his way to sneak in some surfing before work Thursday morning when police flagged him down. They asked who he was and where he was headed, then sent him on his way.

Seconds later, Perdue’s attorney said, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into his pickup and officers opened fire; none of the bullets struck Perdue.

His pickup, police later explained, matched the description of the one belonging to Christopher Jordan Dorner — the ex-cop who has evaded authorities after allegedly killing three and wounding two more. But the pickups were different makes and colors. And Perdue looks nothing like Dorner: He’s several inches shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter. And Perdue is white; Dorner is black. . . .

The incident involving Perdue was the second time police looking for the fugitive former LAPD officer opened fire on someone else. . . . Torrance police said the officers who slammed into Perdue were responding to shots fired moments earlier in a nearby area in a nearby area where LAPD officers were standing guard outside the home of someone targeted in an online manifesto that authorities have attributed to Dorner.[1]

In the first incident, LAPD officers opened fire on another pickup they feared was being driven by Dorner. The mother and daughter inside the truck were delivering Los Angeles Times newspapers. The older woman was shot twice in the back and the other was wounded by broken glass.

In Perdue’s case, his attorney said he wasn’t struck by bullets or glass but was injured in the car wreck, suffering a concussion and an injury to his shoulder. The LAX baggage handler hasn’t been able to work since, and his car is totaled, Sheahen said. . . . According to the police department, Perdue’s car was headed directly for one of their patrol vehicles and appeared not to be yielding. When the vehicles collided, Perdue’s air bag went off, blocking the view of the driver, and one officer fired three rounds.

— Robert Faturechi and Matt Stevens, Police seeking Dorner opened fire in a second case of mistaken identity, Los Angeles Times (February 9, 2013)

Do you feel safer now?

Mostly, this is just horrible and I hope that my friends in Southern California are staying safe. Connie Rice, a civil rights attorney, was consulted by the authors of the L.A. Times article, but what they chose to print from her statement was not anything having to do with civil rights; it was They [government police] don’t know where he is, and they’re going to be edgy and jumpy . . . Don’t get in their way. They’re in a special state of consciousness right now, and they’re not used to being hunted. I don’t know how much talk about civil rights issues in this homicidal police rampage was edited down to get that pull-quote, so I don’t want to blame Connie Rice for anything if this was taken out of context by the reporters. However, I will say that while it may be sensible practical advice to tell folks to stay away from the cops right now — while they are acting like twitchy, homicidal maniacs, and shooting literally anybody who moves the wrong way — it’s not clear how this advice is supposed to help someone like David Perdue. After all he didn’t get in [the police’s] way; they rammed his truck from behind. And if the attitude you have to take towards government police right now, even when they don’t come right after you for driving down a residential street, is essentially to treat them like mad dogs and do anything you can to keep a safe distance from them, what does that tell you about policing?

Government police are immensely politically and socially privileged, and they constantly demand extraordinary legal immunities and social deference. The reason that police use to justify the special powers and immunities that they get relative to the rest of the population is, in their constant refrain, that they’re putting their own lives on the line, supposedly for our safety. Actually, what constantly happens, and what is happening right now in Southern California, is that police jump on guesses, shoot first and ask questions later, and rely on boss cops and city lawyers to make up excuses for any mistake or any aubse, and so to protect them from any legal consequences whatever for when they attack, hurt or kill unarmed, defenseless or completely innocent people. As a result, when the chips are down, what happens, over and over again, is that police put our lives on the line, in order to protect their own safety, and their political privileges and legal immunities ensure that they will never be held accountable for whatever they do to us in the process.

Government police are one of the greatest menaces to public safety in the United States.

Support your local CopWatch.

Also.

  1. [1] The jumbled grammar here — which, like most writing that was copied more or less directly from cop-speak, is full of passive constructions, lost subjects, rhetorical misdirection fractured causation, and seems more or less entirely calculated to erase the subjects of sentences, in order to ensure maximal obscurity about what police actually chose to do and when they did it — makes it hard to parse out this piece of information. But other reports have made clear that the shots fired moments earlier, which the cops who rammed Perdue’s truck were responding to and which got them afraid, were shots fired by other police officers, specifically the shots fired when LAPD opened up 20-30 rounds on the women in the first pickup truck. So one set of cops is hunting another cop who’s been shooting cops; the first set of cops flies off the handle and lights up the wrong pickup truck; the gunfire from their mistaken-identity overkill shooting frightens another set of cops, and so they flip out, then ram and light up the first pickup truck they see coming.

Public Safety

From the Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013), on a recent police shooting in Torrance, California. Emphasis is mine.

It was around 5 a.m. in Torrance on Thursday and police from nearby El Segundo had seen a pickup truck exit a freeway and head in the general direction of the Redbeam Avenue residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers. Police were on the lookout for Christopher Jordan Dorner, a disgruntled ex-cop suspected of hunting down members of the LAPD . . . . A few minutes later, a truck slowly rolled down the quiet residential street.

As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn’t gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.

In an interview with The Times on Friday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck outlined the most detailed account yet of how the shooting unfolded. Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of a tragic misinterpretation . . . They declined to say how many officers were involved, what kind of weapons they used, how many bullets were fired and, perhaps most important, what kind of verbal warnings — if any — were given to the women before the shooting began.

Law enforcement sources told The Times that at least seven officers opened fire. On Friday, the street was pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs. Residents said they wanted to know what happened.

. . . Glen T. Jonas, the attorney representing the women, said the police officers gave no comments, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender before opening fire. He described a terrifying encounter in which the pair were in the early part of their delivery route through several South Bay communities. Hernandez was in the back seat handing papers to her daughter, who was driving. Carranza would briefly slow the truck to throw papers on driveways and front walks.

As bullets tore through the cabin, the two women covered their faces and huddled down, Jonas said. They felt like it was going on forever.

Hernandez was shot twice in her back and is expected to recover. Her daughter escaped with only minor wounds from broken glass… .

Jonas estimated that the officers fired between 20 and 30 rounds. Photographs of the back of the truck showed at least two dozen bullet holes. Neighbors, however, suggested there were more shots fired. . . .

A day after the shooting, residents in the street surveyed the damage.

Kathy Merkosky, 53, was outside her stucco home pointing out the six bullet holes in the bumper and grill of her silver Acura MD-X. She knew her truck was damaged when she spotted it on television and saw fluid flowing into the street.

Her Ford Focus was hit as well — a bullet shattered the windshield and another flattened a front tire.

. . . [Neighbor Richard] Goo said he could hear the bullets hitting the front door and feared they were coming through the house.

He said he called 911 for the police, but was notified that they were already there.

— Joel Rubin, Angel Jennings and Andrew Blankstein, Details emerge in LAPD’s mistaken shooting of newspaper carriers, Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013)

Here’s more on the Official Reaction, from the same story:

After the investigation is completed, Beck and an oversight board will decide if officers were justified in the shooting . . . .

— Details emerge …

Fun fact: if you delete the if from this sentence it will still be a completely accurate statement about what is going to happen.

. . . or made mistakes that warrant either punishment or training.

— Details emerge …

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck isn’t sure whether or not a gang of cops lighting up completely the wrong vehicle and shooting an innocent 71-year-old woman twice in the back is making a mistake.

But if it is, it’s a mistake that warrants punishment or training.

Do you feel safer now?

Also.

Anarchist Communications.

Here’s some things that have come across my desk this week that I’ve been meaning to post a note about.

Publications.

  • Shawn P. Wilbur, La Frondeuse Issues #3 and #4. From Shawn Wilbur: The Black and Red Feminism zine has been reborn as La Frondeuse [The Troublemaker, or The Anti-Authoritarian.] The name is borrowed from one of Séverine’s collections. Issue 3 features works by Louise Michel, Paule Mink and Séverine. Issue 4 contains works by Jenny d’Héricourt under various pen-names. The name-change comes with a bit of fancy repackaging, and will be retroactive. . . . With just a little luck, the paper edition of La Frondeuse will become the first monthly subscription title from Corvus Editions, starting this fall….

  • Roderick Long, Three from The Liberator. From Roderick Long: William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator was the premier abolitionist journal of the antebellum u.s. I’ve just posted three pieces from The Liberator: an anti-voting piece by Garrison, an anti-slavery piece by Lysander Spooner, and a report on an 1858 reform convention.

  • Fair Use Repository, Now available: The Relation of Anarchism to Organization (1899), by Fred Schulder OK, this one’s by me, so the path of communication was a relatively short one. Still, check it out: a rare individualist anarchist pamphlet from Cleveland, Ohio, printed in 1899. By Fred Schulder, an individualist anarchist noticeably influenced by Tucker, Clarence Swartz, and Henry George.[1] From the Fair Use Blog: Schulder’s essay is, in any case, an interesting attempt at discussing the possibilities of consensual social organization, and the anti-social, anti-coordinative features of State force, from a framework based on Spencerian evolutionary theory. [More here.]

  • CAL Press, Modern Slavery #1: From CAL Press: . . . The first full issue of this journal has now taken half a decade to come to fruition. It’s been a struggle on many fronts to turn the original impulse and idea into reality. But from here on there’s no turning back and we refuse to be stopped! The Modern Slavery project is a direct successor to previous C.A.L. Press projects. These include the magazine Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (published since 1980, and now produced by an independent collective since 2006), the North American Anarchist Review (published for a few years in the ’80s), the Alternative Press Review . . ., and the C.A.L. Press book publishing project . . . . The original idea for this new journal was to provide a space within the libertarian and anarchist milieu for the publication of some of the really important, critical and creative material that has too often fallen into the cracks between what will fit into the inadequate spaces available in libertarian periodicals and what has been publishable in book form. . . . The original concept for Modern Slavery included a roughly 200-page, perfect-bound oversize journal format oriented towards people who enjoy reading and who aren’t afraid to dive into longer texts that are exciting, intelligent and well-written. In order to remove any possibility or appearance of competition with the now separate and independent Anarchy magazine project, the intention was to avoid newsstand distribution, keep the graphic design simple, severely limit artwork and photos, and avoid publishing any material on the shorter side. The planned format was actually intended to be something not yet too far from what you’ll find in this first full issue. However, since the Anarchy collective has recently decided to end its newsstand distribution and shrink its circulation, Modern Slavery will instead seek (limited) newsstand distribution, include more complex graphic design and more artwork and photos, while attempting something more of a balance between longer and shorter contributions in future issues. The changes in direction will probably become more clear as future issues appear. Issue #1 includes articles by Paul Simons, François Gardyn, Henry David Thoreau, Ron Sakolsky, Voltairine de Cleyre, Massimo Passamani, Jason McQuinn, Émile Armand, and the first parts of serialized works by Karen Goaman, Wolfi Landstreicher, and Lang Gore.[2] [More here.]

CFPs.

  • InterOccupy: Science & Society Accepting Papers on Anarchism: Theory, Practice, Roots, Current Trends. From andrea @ InterOccupy: Science & Society is planning a special issue on the broad theme of anarchism, as appearing in both past and present-day political movements. . . . While we expect contributors to innovate and shape their papers according to specific interests and views, we encourage them to contact the Guest Editors (email parameters provided below), so that completeness of coverage can be achieved, and duplication avoided, to the greatest extent possible. We are looking for articles in the 7,000-8,000 word range. Projected publication is Spring 2014, so we would like to have manuscripts in hand by January 2013. Discussion about the project overall, and suggestions concerning content, should begin immediately. Note that, this being Science & Society, the top two suggested topics for contributions are, essentially, What is it that an understanding of Anarchism can contribute to the confirmation or theoretical development of Marxism? But there are a bunch of other topics that they’re throwing out for consideration in the CFP, and it may well turn out to be an interesting issue. (This being a CFP, whether it’s interesting for good, or for ill, is partly up to you….)

Events.

  1. [1] Oh well, you can’t have everything. —R.G.
  2. [2] Also there’s an article by Bob Black, but oh well, you can’t have everything. —R.G.

The only other known phenomenon of similar density is Four Dollar 40 Night at Babs’ in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Oh, God, it’s like every hipster joke in the Universe was pulled together and compressed until they reached the Schwarzchild radius and formed a humor event horizon — where no attempt at satire, no matter how ridiculous, can escape the gravitational pull of reality. And so these words appeared in print — not in the Onion but in the Los Angeles Times.

A wrong turn for L.A.’s food truck scene?

Kogi chef Roy Choi thinks some people miss the point of food trucks.

. . . [RoadStoves co-owner Josh] Hiller is not alone in feeling that what was once an exciting, underground food scene driven by a punk rock aesthetic and an exploratory mentality is swiftly becoming a mainstream, bottom-line-obsessed maze of infighting and politics.

When Kogi started, there were only a few new-wave food trucks on the scene; now that number is hovering near 200, says Hiller. And where experimental entrepreneurs once dominated, corporate players such as Jack in the Box and Sizzler are entering the fray.

There are other issues too, including a wealth of copycat trucks and the sense that many entering the business have no culinary experience but expect to make a fortune.

— Jessica Gelt, A wrong turn for L.A.’s food truck scene? in the Los Angeles Times Food section, 6 May 2011

(If you are curious, the rest of the story is more or less the following: self-consciously quirky gourmet food trucks have been all the rage for a couple years.[1] Now the market is getting competitive, and the first-movers are discovering, holy crap, that mature markets without high barriers to entry are often no longer dominated by experimental entrepreneurs. Because low overhead means lots of competition, and economic rents eventually dissipate as all those entrepreneurial discoveries and the results of all that market experimentation get diffused throughout society. New players jump in and incumbents have to either move on to the next big discovery, or accept the lower margins for normal business. But like a lot of folks in niche markets, their first response to competition has been to toss some indie-crafty-funk bombs about how incumbents shouldn’t have to deal with economic entropy or take some losses or work harder to please customers who are enjoying ever more options, because, dammit, they were into this scene before it got cool. Really, I like what they are doing, and so I hope they have a second response. Meanwhile, the other big squeeze on their margins, and on the viability of funky alternative street food — that is, all the regulations that are starting to crack down, and the sharp ratchet effect that this has on the fixed costs of operating — is treated as if it were simply an economic fact of nature. Rather than blaming peaceful competitors for cannibalizing your business, perhaps the energy and the outrage would be better directed at the belligerent, controlling politicos who whose periodic panic attacks are dignified as an attempt to issues presented by … nascent food truck cultures. (Actually, the folks who run food trucks and the folks who eat at them have been doing just fine; issues here are the city councils’ — but we’d all be better off if they were no longer able to make their control issues our problem.) Anyway, when margins are being squeezed there are two sides — the competitive pressure downwards on revenues, and the political pressure upwards on fixed costs. The downward pressure is from an essentially peaceful activity and means that the rest of us can get more food from more places at less cost. The upward pressure is from an essentially coercive, dominating activity that provides no-one a cheap sandwich, and mainly benefits local regulators and established restauranteurs. The thing that’s supposed to be awesome about food trucks is how they can bring people together in all kinds of different ways by getting light-weight, creative, and driving the huge fixed costs out of the economic and social equation; why not embrace that, welcome new competition, and refocus on the domming political cartels that try to shove the huge fixed costs back in, make thinner margins so difficult to deal with, and constantly force energy to be rechanneled away from experimentation and into compliance?)

  1. [1] Of course, loncheras have been around for decades. What’s changed is that professional-class white people spent years mocking loncheras with borderline-racist put-downs, when not actually going to cops and city councils in an effort to violently shut them down. But thanks to a couple of smart entrepreneurial moves a couple years ago, they got sold on food trucks all of a sudden — as long as they charge high prices, offer weird or gimmicky food options, and sport an expensive new paint job — and so now all of the sudden it’s all the rage among newspaper food writers. Which is all fine, and it’s great really, and I’m glad that folks are doing well and having a bite to eat, but if you’re going to spend all your time talking up L.A.’s neighborhoods and street food culture and funky, independent, low-overhead, mobile alternatives to the restauranteuring status quo, you might give some props to the taco trucks that were doing it decades ago, instead of starting practically every story on the New Food Truck Armada with fuck-you lines like In the past few years, a new wave of food trucks has emerged, making food trucks the latest and hippest niche in the foodie world. These trucks are not the roach coaches of days of yore. These are sophisticated gourmet eateries where the food happens to be made in a kitchen that operates inside a truck, etc. etc.