For the last 10-odd years, my favorite part of the media week has happened every Friday around 9 a.m., when New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog posts a feature called “The Grub Street Diet.” The Grub Street Diet features a notable or semi-notable person describing everything they ate the previous week. Some of the Diets are delightful, some are deeply annoying, and some are simply too much.
But there’s one type of Diet that makes me very upset and seems to be occurring with increasing frequency: the one that mainly, or totally, takes place in… (grimace)... Los Angeles.
It’s true that in recent years New York has become less focused on the five boroughs and select exurbs in favor of becoming a national publication featuring the latest neoliberal-lite think pieces on politics and Game of Thrones. I do not begrudge the magazine this or any other of its money-making ploys; its new-ish affiliate-link-powered product-review vertical, the Strategist, is the most wonderful thing borne from the marriage of media and capitalism since the National Review Wine Club (full disclosure: I have written for the Strategist and would do so again in a second! I love you Strategist!).
Regardless of the magazine’s growing geographical reach, it is an insult to its base — those who live in New York, as its name suggests — when the Grub Street Diet takes place in L.A. L.A. has its own magazine, called Los Angeles Magazine. If I wanted to read about L.A. food, which I don’t, I might go there. I do not visit the New York website in an incognito window to read about L.A. food. I live in New York, and I want to read food diaries by locals about what they are eating here, so I can then make fun of them or visit some of the restaurants they mention.
Already this year, we have had to endure FOUR Grub Street Diets that have at least partially taken place in L.A. Photographer Liz Barclay picked up a $20 smoothie at Erehwon; director David Gelb visited Spago; podcaster Karina Longworth endorsed a hipster deli in Silver Lake; Maria Sharapova prepared to return to the land of charcoal milk by eating baby food on her flight. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care and also seek help.
This is not to demean the food culture of L.A. L.A. has fine food. I’ve been to Sqirl. It was fine. I get it. Grain bowls. Big toast. Sugarfish is pretty good. There are some okay pizza places, I guess. Tacos, which people are always excited about. Chinese food, but New York also has that. But of what relevance is this to the eight million people of New York City and the 25,000 restaurants that exist among us? Why aren’t we good enough to dominate the Diet in a magazine that bears the name of our home?
Frankly, it’s offensive to me — not to mention totally nonsensical — that New York thinks it can pander to both coasts through the Grub Street Diet. This is a magazine that publishes each year an issue dedicated to the “things we love about New York,” under the supposition that they are the authority on New York. But then they go and allow Grub Street Diet participants to also talk about L.A., the most boring city on earth, where I once saw Kim Gordon eating a big salad.
There are many things to detest about New York: the rent, the subway, Donald Trump is from here, big rats, Bill de Blasio, Billionaire’s Row, the fact that the Third Avenue Whole Foods promenade in Brooklyn closed because it was sinking into the Gowanus. But there is one thing I love: the Grub Street Diet in New York magazine. It will be a shame if its drift westward brings me to hate it, too.
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