• by Wes Singleton

Review: City of Gold, B+

Rated R, 96 minutes

Everyone must eat, and what we eat and where we eat it often defines who we are. That is the subject of the fascinating, delectable documentary "City of Gold," that follows Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times as he explores the culinary culture of Los Angeles. Directed and written by Laura Gabbert, Gold is an intriguing, entertaining subject as he travails the streets of L.A. in his old, dusty green Dodge pickup to find food joints in the most unlikely of places. Even more important than the places he finds to eat, Gold blends his reviews into commentaries about culture and the melting pot that the city has become, putting a spotlight on different cuisines and the culture that inspires it. There is seemingly a food truck or restaurant that Gold doesn't know about in the city, and there's seemingly no place he isn't afraid to at least try: his reviews can seemingly make or break a restaurant (the documentary focuses on the better ones, fortunately). Korean, Thai, Mexican, French, American, Gold tries them all, and it's a treat to see him walk into the restaurants, where everyone knows him even if they haven't met him, a revered figure among L.A.'s culinary scene. One of my favorite scenes has the charming Gold trying an ultra-spicy Thai dish that has his eyes bulging out. "Is it spicy enough?" the owner asks him. "O, it's spicy enough," with the look on his eyes that says it all. In between all of the restaurant visits and commentaries on food and life, Gabbert finds a way to incorporate biographical elements of Gold's life, as sort of a side dish to the main entree, less tasty but enough to keep the movie flowing, though it is interesting that Gold's wife, Laurie Ochoa, is an entertainment editor at the Times and often helps him edit his pieces. Gold uses food to spotlight the diversity in the city, and as an entry way to respect other cultures, though it doesn't hurt that like the rest of us, he also likes to eat, and there's nothing wrong with that. Worth a look for the charming Gold and all the scrumptious dishes he eats.

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