Balsley's food section was perhaps a bit too comfortable for me - I admit a certain partiality to the next phase of the section's development, which involved Ruth Reichl, Laurie Ochoa, Charles Perry and me; we may be among the villains in this story - but I admired its solidity, its wide focus, and its devotion to an idealized Los Angeles for which we are all a bit nostalgic: Jack Smith with more eggplant.
We all know what happened next, I think. Supermarket chains merged, merged again, and moved their ads to those circulars you toss in the round file without opening; newspapers thought they could make a few pennies more by stuffing coupons into the Sunday paper than they could by printing them in Food, and suddenly a section thick enough to stop bullets became slender as the first asparagus of spring.
On Saturday, April 10 at 10:30 a.m., Balsley, Dosti, Hansen and Deane will be talking about the old Times food section at an event presented by the Culinary Historians of Southern California, at the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, in the Mark Taper Auditorium. Hear live "Culinary SOS!'' Experience the thrills of "Lets Eat Out!'' Find out why your lasagne recipe doesn't work! Will there be refreshments? You bet!