In our ongoing series of Venn food diagrams, we seek to discover what a specific group of people eats versus what other people think they eat. For this edition, we're delving in to dangerous waters, asking: What is eaten on L.A.'s Westside, versus what is eaten on the Eastside?
A caveat: We didn't intend to continue the debate on what constitutes East and West in our great metropolis, though — we know it's a touchy subject. Our respondents were OK with us defining everything east of Main Street downtown as Eastside, and west of there as the Westside. (Which it is.) We wanted to keep it simple.
We love our city and celebrate the fact there are ethnic enclaves all over town, allowing us to visit a neighborhood specifically for one type of cuisine.
We polled Eastsiders and Westsiders from a variety of cultural backgrounds — both transplants and locals — querying what they think the people on the opposite side of the imaginary divide dine on most often.
Happily, most people answered our questions with cultural sensitivity and an acute awareness that there is a huge difference in what is available on each side of town. Not a single comment was less positive than, “Everyone in L.A. eats better than the people in Barstow.” We tend to agree, but if anyone wants to stand up for Barstow, please do. We'll let you duke that out in the comments section.
The general feeling was that Eastsiders have space for gardens and a more relaxed attitude toward owning and raising food, including chickens and bees — for eggs and honey — which Westsiders are particularly jealous of. They eat Indian food and Mexican cuisine because those are the cultures they represent. There was an overwhelming response that Eastsiders eat more “authentic” cuisine. Delving deeper taught us that meant home cooking.
The closer you live to the water, the more likely you are to be gently mocked by your Eastside counterparts, who say you live on a diet of Korean food, sushi, seaweed and goji berries; they assume you think Mexican food on the other side of town is better and are pretty sure you have a lemon tree: “Everyone on the Westside seems to have a lemon tree.”
We all agree that In N Out, tacos, all iterations of Chinese food and fresh food/vegetables are on the tables of Angelenos, no matter what side of town.
Gjelina seems to have secured its place in our minds as the quintessential Westside restaurant. Feel free to discuss that in the comments section as well.
Quite a few replies mentioned wine. Specifically, Chardonnay. The poll may have been influenced by the fact most of the people questioned were also sent a link to the Saturday Night Live sketch The Californians.
Ultimately, we were happy to learn that wherever you live in L.A., if you know and care about food, you're content so long as you can find a decent taco.
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