An Open Letter To Jean-Luc Naret of the Michelin Guide
|Flickr user lwr|
|No longer to be seen in Los Angeles...|
Asked why the famous red book pulled out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Naret got his dander up and replied, "The people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit."
Really, M. Naret?
Given your recent comments on the dining scene in Los Angeles, it is becoming increasingly clear that the problem lies not with our restaurants, but with your criteria and, likely, with your own particular anti-Angeleno bias.
You seem to have bought into the trite, cliché stereotypes that make such wonderful sound bites (forgive me for using our Los Angeles vernacular) but don't stand up to much examination. Much like your inspection process, which makes no attempt to get to know the capability of the kitchens of the restaurants chosen for review, you appear to have judged an entire city's food by a couple of flying visits.
Stereotypes--rude stereotypes--run both ways. For example, it would be very easy for me to say that all French waiters are rude and that no French main dish is complete without some rich sauce, mounted with at least a hundred grams of butter, enveloping the food. Anyone who has ever suffered through a meal on the Champs-Elysées or in the Place de la Madeleine would say that the stereotype is true, but to say so would be to ignore the huge amount of evidence to the contrary: waitstaff who truly are proud of the food they serve and who listen patiently as a never-ending legion of English-speaking tourists fumble through the names of unfamiliar dishes, and the growing movement toward simplicity that is blossoming everywhere in France.
So, too, the Los Angeles stereotype is dispelled by just a closer look and a more accepting understanding of how Angelenos dine.
We are, first and foremost, lovers of ethnic cuisines, an ethos woefully underrepresented in the Michelin Guide. Angelenos choose happily between the freshest Mexican seafood, spicy Thai, herb-laden Vietnamese, Middle Eastern meze and spice-bedecked Ethiopian, without a second thought. The rich tapestry of cultures in Los Angeles--what was once called the melting pot--is our birthright and a symbol of the breadth of our taste.