City Of Gold

Believe it or not, reviewing a subject is actually pretty hard. What do you say? Do you know how to say it with more words than just “good” and “bad?” Are you able to convey your feelings in a factual way that makes people believe? Shit, just check out my guest reviews on the website. People thought reviewing films would be easy, but it takes awhile to really find your voice and your groove.

I can’t even imagine reviewing anything besides film. Television shows are similar, but no way could I review an episode or whole season. Goodreads only prepares me so much for book reviews. And food? Forget about it! I am the worst eater, so I could never even be a bit biased when it comes to food.

So you know what? Those people who review food, not the assholes on Yelp, they are the real MVPs.

I don’t know anything about these people, outside of the fact that they probably will eat anything. I never heard about Jonathan Gold, a famous food critic from Los Angeles. And by famous critic, I mean Roger Ebert levels of food criticism.

Here I am then. About to review a documentary about a guy who reviews food. Thankfully I have some experience reviewing a reviewer. Life Itself was pretty good!

Oh yeah, this dude loves food. All the food.

City of Gold is titled as such, due to Jonathan’s last name, and his relationship with the city of LA. Gold is apparently the first guy to really put himself out there and go to every little restaurant. Before then, the critics would only go to the fancy big French restaurants in the city, for the elite, and that was it. But not Gold. He went to every Mom and Pop shop, in every district, tasting cuisine from around the world.

To make a comparison, it would be like a movie reviwer only watching the top of the box office. Gold would watch the box office leaders, the weird indie stuff, and every straight-to-DVD B-Movie. (Hey, I used to do that when I had time!). Gold changed things for the food critics. He also isn’t extremely mean. A lot of critics bitch and moan over the smallest problems due to their “refined pallets” and ego. He doesn’t go around loving everything. But he gives it a chance. He learns about the story behind the dish, the culture that produced it, and how it might fare to similar dishes of that variety.

And of course, this leads to amazing business for these lucky shops to have been written about by Gold, the most trusted name in food since, well, anyone but Nestle.

What I liked most about this (arguably simple) documentary, is that samples of his writings were read out loud as a sort of narration, and I just found myself insanely jealous. He has such a way with words, every review becoming a beautiful story. I want him to write my biography some day. Or at least just narrate my life as a I sit around and do nothing on a computer.

Gold is an awesome person. And although the documentary is about him and what he has done to the industry, by the end it broadens out a bit to be about the city he is from as a whole. At the same time, it is still a very niche documentary. It won’t go leading any social change or change your thoughts on anything at all. But it is a nice use of your time, if you like learning about strangers.

3 out of 4.

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