Los Angeles is viewed today as one of the most thrilling cities in the world to eat. It is a place of sun-kissed produce, internationally diverse communities, and free-spirited artistry that stokes the imaginations of chefs and culinary trend-setters everywhere.
But that wasn’t Aleksandra Crapanzano’s impression when she began flying there regularly from her native New York as a budding screenwriter. Over countless steak-and-martini dinners and chopped salad lunches, she observed how diners were more preoccupied with the fashions of the clientele than the food on their plates.
Then her son was born, right around the time the Writers Guild went on strike. An avid home cook, she turned to nesting and a side gig writing for The New York Times Magazine food pages.
Screenwriters like herself took their laptops out of the writing rooms of Hollywood’s major movie studios and into L.A. coffee shops and cafes, where a new breed of chefs was catering to a more casual market less interested in splurging on an expense-account steak than “ceremonial-grade matcha lattes and wild strawberries with yuzu sugar.”
Crapanzano kept a journal of dishes she wanted to re-create at home. These recipes are the backbone of “Eat. Cook. L.A.”: Chicken Salad with Indian Spices from Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza; Turmeric-Grilled Sea Bass from Bryant Ng of Cassia; Green Tea Basil Smash from Margarita and Walter Manzke of La Republique; Carrot Coconut Vegan “Panna Cotta” from Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice. The author expertly presents this melting pot of backgrounds and styles in one cohesive package from the perspective of an accomplished but practical home cook, with gorgeous food and environmental photos to put them in context.
Interspersed are glimpses inside some of these game-changing establishments and insights about the chefs behind them, but mostly the author lets the recipes do the talking. That’s enough to inspire me to get cooking, while plotting my own script for an eating vacation to the City of Angels as soon as possible.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.
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