After yet another dispiriting meal in yet another indifferent New Hampshire restaurant, George and I sat across from each other in sad resignation. Last year we relocated to the town of Hanover, home of Dartmouth College, though from a dining perspective we may as well have moved to Salem’s Lot. Puritan strains run deep in this neck of the woods, and after so many bland sandwiches, plain-jane pastas and heatless “ethnic” dishes, we have been forced to conclude that, along with rock & roll and unsensible shoes, eating for pleasure is just one of the many vain indulgences frowned upon by the locals. Never have I lived in a place where food is such an admonition to modesty, where you must literally pay (anywhere from $2 to $10 more per dish than in Los Angeles!) for gluttonous impulses. Needless to say, my mind wanders to happier culinary times.
Here’s what I would eat if I were in L.A.:
A carnitas burrito from Yuca. How I miss you, sweet burrito, you perfect packet of pork and beans! I’ve considered writing Dora, Yuca’s proprietor, and promising never to divulge the recipe if only she’ll tell me how to replicate you here. But then, I’ve also imagined opening a taco stand in Hanover and calling it, “Estoy Aburrida.” 2056 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 662-1214.
Pollo ruspante from Farfalla, or maybe an arugula salad and some minestrone. You think a decent, mid-range trattoria will always be within easy reach, but it just isn’t so. Why isn’t it so? I don’t understand. 1978 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 661-7365.
An eggburger with cheese from Fatburger, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise only. Yes, that’s right, it’s a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it. Unless you’ve tried it, you have no idea. For locations, go towww.fatburger.net.
Thai chicken noodle soup from Sanamluang Café. So it’s not a fucking chowder. Sue me. 5176 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8006.
Chili cheese fries from Fatburger— fat fries, please. Not on the same visit as the eggburger, though; that’s too much even for me. These are to be eaten less as a meal than as a late-night refreshment, preferably after beer and karaoke.
Bulgoki from Chosun Galbi. When a couple from the college invited us out for Korean food, I was so excited, I nearly did a back flip. Then I got my plate of bulgoki. In the place of savory strips of charred beef I would have eaten at Chosun, there was a mound of greasy steak-ums swimming in sweet sauce. That was a bad evening. If it weren’t for the kim chi, I would have cried all night. 3330 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A., (323) 732-5000.
Pollo en mole poblano from Mexico City. Maybe there are better moles in L.A., but who cares? This one was delicious, and it was right around the corner from us. Right around the corner. 2121 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 661-7227.
A Sidecar at Musso and Frank. Not a meal, technically, but certainly nourishing in its own inimitable way. At this point, I could really use one. Or four. 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 467-7788.