What: An impeccably written piece of satire timed to April Fools’ Day.
Who: The Los Angeles Times’ Food section and writer Lucas Kwan Peterson.
Why we care: April 1 is a notoriously terrible day on the internet. You read headlines like “Alamo Drafthouse launches portrait-style VerticalVision theater screens” and wonder who on Earth would desire such a thing? Then you remember what day it is, and understand that your momentary confusion was part of a hilarious joke. For one day each year, the so-called Fake News media actually has a hall pass for perpetuating news that is fake. (Brands, too. In fact, it’s mostly brands.) Unfortunately, 99.9% of attempts at April Fools’ Day humor fall flat. They’re either super obvious and eyeroll-y or verging on cruel. Most of them lack anything resembling a point of view that would justify their existence. All of this is to say that when a truly sharp and well-executed piece of satire comes out on this day of all days, it’s able to cut through the clutter like a razor through butter.
Lucas Kwan Peterson’s column in the Los Angeles Times about New York food culture succeeds on every level imaginable. The headline itself, “For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene,” is a deft nod to New York Times-style packaging, and everything that follows is a joy to read as well. This piece drains all the puffy air out of New Yorkers’ sense of their home turf as the don dada of gourmet eateries, while simultaneously knocking New York food writers’ sense of discovery about “exotic” cuisine that is well established elsewhere.
It’s also serves as an eloquent and efficient rebuttal to some of the New York Times’ woeful coverage of the L.A. food scene over the years, with patronizing headlines like “Los Angeles Restaurant Scene Is on the Move and Mixing It Up.” Furthermore, the crisp writing about New York as a rising food spot deliciously trolls Gotham without ever breaking kayfabe: “Surrounded by rats, black trash bags and graffiti-tagged storefronts on Broadway Street, New York’s primary thoroughfare, I wondered aloud if I would be able to find a decent meal in what was surely a culinary heart of darkness.”
While this is bound to take the coastal rivalry to new heights, any New Yorker with a sense of humor would have to concede that this biting April Fools’ Day prank has their number. Take notes, media consumers and creators, this is how it’s done.