Making a place from just a handful of pieces

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As far as I can tell, the food writer Jonathan Gold, who died last year, only ever published one book. Luckily, it’s a book that I could read forever.

Counter Intelligence is an alphabetised collection of his reviews of restaurants in Los Angeles. Gold liked the kind of places that other critics didn’t go to. The classic Gold restaurant, in fact, is probably in a mini-mall next to a laundry or a tattoo place, and only takes cash. Through decades of diligence and perception, he proved that you can cover a whole world of cuisine in a single city, as long as the single city in question is Los Angeles.

There’s a quote on the cover of my copy from Ruth Reichl that sums up the appeal: “You could read [this book] like a novel and be very satisfied,” she says. I love that line. Because I do read this book a bit like a novel, a novel in which LA is the main character. And it makes me think about the way that we encounter places in the real world, and in games. It makes me think about the way these places are constructed.

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