Josh KunJun 2, 2015
To Live and Dine in L.A.
Menus and the Making of the Modern City
Angel City Press 2015
This book is a ton of fun. To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City (Angel City Press) taps the deep and colorful collection of Southern California restaurant menus archived by the Los Angeles Public Library. Author Josh Kun, a professor in the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California, presides over beautiful pages showing a century of menus, ranging from the Art Deco high points of the Brown Derby (purportedly where the Cobb Salad was invented) to the low points of "Southern" style joints whose menus used stereotype Aunt Jemima-type depictions of African American women to draw in customers. My favorites include a menu for the Hangman's Tree Cafe, a joint in the San Fernando Valley that seemed to be working the theme of serving last meals. Fun? Kun uses the images to spin a narrative about class, race and, of course, food in the history of Los Angeles. Enjoy.