Jonathan Gold, who died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at the much too young age of 57, was one of those writers who made readers believe they were experiencing his world.
On the other side of the country, I felt I was with him as he explored Los Angeles' multitude of ethnic restaurants. He was a travel writer in his native city.
Gold's pieces for LA Weekly and the Los Angeles Times gave American literature something new, impressionistic essays and adventure stories more than works of food criticism. He revealed the colors, voices and light of the places he visited, as well as their strange, wonderful flavors.
My favorite Gold article reported upon a New Orleans Saints party at a Cajun restaurant in Los Angeles. Like those Louisianians. I had left my native state but not its deep cultural ties. The piece captured the primal/conflicted love we feel about our poor, ravaged Louisiana. I sent Gold an appreciative e-mail about the article, and he surprised me with a warm reply.
Gold cared about his readers, and the places about which he wrote. The people he celebrated came from many distant lands, but he he saw them as citizens of Los Angeles, sharing in our republic.