2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

R&K Insider: L.A. food games and a new Bourdain site!

Kill your productivity with Explore Parts Unknown.

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Hello, best beloved readers. We had a long, cold, rainy March here in New York, but for whatever reason, I decided to wait until sunny, balmy April to head somewhere warm. Why did I do that?! Maybe take my travel advice with a grain of salt.

But that’s not going to stop me from providing it! I’m heading to L.A. today to speak with some of the fine folks at AAJA-LA (which is extremely fun to say out loud, try it) and to eat everything I can get my hands on in a very limited time frame. This led me and R&K co-founder Nathan Thornburgh to play a fun game I’ll very creatively call One Meal, where we debated what to eat if you only had time for one dinner. This is a great game that I now want to play at every dinner party. Anyway, Nathan was pushing hard for Broken Spanish, focusing especially on the lamb neck tamales. As we’ve discussed, however, dear readers, my husband is a vegetarian, and I thought the menu was a little meat heavy. I countered with my favorite place in L.A. right now, Night + Market, where I dream of the panang en neua and pad kee mao I had last time, rounded out with a beer tower. Admittedly, that’s not vegetarian, but they have options, ok? Then Nathan read me every vegetarian dish on the Broken Spanish menu, which was not exactly helpful, but did make me extremely hungry. Now I can’t decide, so tweet at me if you want to vote: lamb neck tamales or pad kee mao. Although I’m not ruling out that we’ll end up at Roy Choi’s Chego (pictured above, in a photo I took before eating a rice bowl—a freaking rice bowl—that I still think of with longing). Or sitting in the car eating Guerrilla Tacos. Or maybe Loqui.

Related to that last link, have you watched the L.A. love-letter documentary City of Gold? It’s about L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold, but also largely about the city he loves. I was very lucky to be able to join him for a lunch at Mission Chinese in New York following a screening of the film, and he is, in addition to being one of my favorite writers, the most humble, charming person you could hope to meet. It’s a fantastic movie about food, obviously, but also about immigrant kitchens and culinary cultures and, as a bonus, it’s somewhat of a primer on how to be a decent human being. It reminds me of an era when reading the news didn’t make me reflexively curl into the fetal position.

And while we’re talking about L.A., you know where I’m researching some options for the city’s extensive Koreatown? Why, the just-launched Explore Parts Unknown site created by Roads & Kingdoms and CNN. It is so beautiful! Rest assured, it will kill your productivity. Personally, I got lost in this Chinese food crawl, although the picture of the flour-coated lionfish will haunt my dreams forever. There’s nothing like a fish with a full head of hair.

And if you’re taking a trip, here’s some airplane reading for you: What is up with this Romanian soccer fiasco? How a minor mishap becomes a travel nightmare for thousands. The immediate and impassioned backlash to this Pepsi ad was pretty satisfying. A conspiracy theory that’s not far out enough. A horrifying attack in Syria. An excellent article on a village in Germany that took in 800 refugees. What’s with the chicken bones all over Atlanta? How Hungarian P.M. Viktor Orban’s attack on a university shows his slide into authoritarianism. (I know I wrote about that last time, but the proposed law passed and I’m still really mad about it.) Let’s take the great Mexican road trip! Let’s support human rights (seriously, let’s). Let’s reorganize our books. Let’s stop writing and go to L.A. already.

That’s it for this week! I’m taking next week off, so aforementioned R&K cofounder Nathan Thornburgh will be showing me up in the newslettering department instead. Tweet me the stories I miss while I’m away @caraparks.

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