Dear Mr. Gold:
Chef Rick Bayless has continuously told the media that he thinks L.A. is a "timid" food city and that we do not have as good regional Mexican cooking as what he can find in Chicago. He seems to think that we only have "California" Mexican food, but anyone who has spent any time east of Hollywood knows that's not true. What are your thoughts on that, and what places in L.A. do you think are great examples of regional Mexican cooking at its best?
--Frances Michelle Lopez, via Facebook
Dear Ms. Lopez:
After last year's brouhaha, you'd think Señor Bayless would have given up on this. But he talks about Los Angeles as being dominated by Cal-Mex cooking, which would be OK if true -- Southern California is a legitimate region of historical Mexico -- but happens not to be. As anyone knows who has tried the Oaxacan moles at Guelaguetza, the poblano stews at Elvirita's, the Veracruz chilpachole at Boca del Rio, the Sinaloan pescado Zarandeado at Mariscos Chente in Inglewood, the Zacatecas birria at Flor del Rio, the D.F.-style carnitas at Metro Balderas, the Yucatecan pan de cazon at Chichen Itza, the Guerrero-style lamb barbacoa at Bodega del Oro, the Baja fish tacos at Ricky's or Tacos Bahia Ensenada, the crunchy tacos de camaron at Mariscos Jalisco or the aguachile at Mariscos Nayarit, among many, many other places, Los Angeles is a center of regional Mexican cooking.