It Can Work Both Ways

There’s a popular game played here in Los Angeles that drives native residents crazy. The game is called “Everything Was Better Where I Came From” and it frequently involves food and an east coast city.*

Most transplants (myself included) have played this game and I’ll admit that it’s annoying. Well I’ve got good news, this game can work both ways, at least as far as my hometown is concerned.

My father told me that a Fatburger recently opened up in Massapequa Park, NY, which is about ten minutes from where I was grew up. This is the first one in the area so I made sure to tell him that Fatburger was way better than any stupid Long Island burger joint and he should go there immediately. He told me I had no idea what I was talking about (but not exactly in those words).

Now when I go home to see my family I can take them to Fatburger and while we’re there I can talk about how awesome the food is in Los Angeles. When they ask: “If you love LA so much, why don’t you go back there?” I can assure them that I will do just that.

*As Militant Angeleno will tell you, the idea that the your hometown is a culinary wonderland is pure nostalgic bullshit.

12 thoughts on “It Can Work Both Ways”

  1. i think i agree with militant angeleno, nostalgia can be a killer on many levels. things aren’t always as good as you want them to be, which brings about disappointment. my husband and i always seemed to find the best italian, and the best asian foods just as we were about to move to another state.

  2. I hate that game so much. :) Some of my friends, who were born and raised here, but moved away briefly to other cities and are now back in LA clogging up roadways play it all the time. “The City is so much better than LA because…” Please.

    I’m not from here and the only thing better in KC than LA is BBQ…and the jazz scene. That’s it and that’s fact. My husband is from Romania, and everything is better in Romania. Keep in mind he came here when it was still a communist country and family members were spying on family members, but it’s still better. Right.

  3. It’s important to distinguish a statement of “the food or [fill in blank] was BETTER in my last place” from a statement of “the food or [fill in blank] was DIFFERENT where I came from,” or, “how cool, the food or [fill in blank] that I miss from my last place is available here too.” I dread the day where the country becomes so uniform that there are no regional differences in food, dialect, or anything else. I loathe even more the time where those differences cannot be celebrated without people getting bent out of shape.

    When I lived in DC, the Mexican food was generally awful, but excellent Thai restaurants abounded. Here, I love the Mexican food, but have had trouble finding an abundance of good local Thai places. (I can’t wait for the commenters to tell me, “Are you crazy? L.A. has hundreds of the best Thai places in the world outside of Phucket!”) It’s not a value judgment about the place or the people. So why are people getting so defensive? That smacks of some real insecurity.

    I’ve seen so many straw men in the comments on some of these posts, turning a simple statement of difference into an imaginary attack on L.A., that I fear a massive brush fire could break out. Oh, I can’t say brush fire, that would be dissing L.A. and all of Southern California. As if.

  4. Funny, I never played that game. I certainly have an appreciation from somethings I picked up from various places I have lived. St Louis Blues and BBQ is pretty decent. Even their deep fried ravioli. Chicago Deep Dish is good, as is Green Bay thin crust. Beer, spent some time on “Da Range” and can even appreciate Hamms from the land of sky blue waters. I’ve held drivers licenses in 7 states before deciding LA is it so I have some pretty good reference points.

    I’m in LA and decided before I moved here that, well, LA is the center of the universe and the rest exists so we have a nice place to visit. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. This has been home for 22 years. I have spent more time here than any place else, actually all them combined for good reason. It doesn’t get much better than this. Great people even though they are in squirting matches over boundary. Terrific variety of stuff to do, and not just entertainment but culturally which is the people that make up the city.

    Though not native born I can don’t get to irritated at first when someone is a little homesick and waxes poetic about back there. At first, after the send or third time I invite them to leave and give Ruth666 their parking space. (Old joke she started so since she asked for it first I tell them to leave it to her). I’m not leaving willingly.

  5. I love Los Angeles. I’ve lived here longer than anyplace else. I love the smells, flavors, colors and variety of languages I can here in one hour on the bus. It is an amazing place. Comparing the food and customs is living in the past that never really was. I do not however look for Hickory-smoked Pork ribs here. The memory associated with the eating of same is associated with another time and place. I also don’t look for good Mexican or Chinese food there. It comes under the heading of unreasonable expectation.

  6. You know, I really don’t mind the “X is better somewhere else than it is in L.A.” formulation, because sometimes it’s true. For instance, I think that burritos in S.F. are, in general, better than burritos in L.A. (oddly, tacos, despite having much the same ingredients, are much better here). For instance, did anyone notice that one of the four finalists for the best thing in L.A. in Lucinda’s previous post was Amoeba, an import from the Bay Area.

    What bugs me is when it devolves into the attitude of “Everything is better somewhere else than in L.A.”, as it completely ignores the great things about L.A. It bypasses the fact that even when things aren’t quite as good (like my burritos), they’re still pretty damn tasty and better than you would get in 99% of the U.S.

    Matt, you should check out Mae Ploy on Sunset.

  7. In L.A., Raymond Chandler wrote, everybody is always in the process of becoming somebody else; part of that process involves devising a nostalgic backstory of a place far, far away that they hail from, a place they would readily return to if the City of Angels wasn’t exerting such a pull on their souls and destinies.

    In a word: bullshit.

  8. One of the many wonderful things about L.A. is that you can find a pretty close approximation to just about anything over which you wax nostaligic. You might have to put in some effort, but it can be done. Also, there is this glorious thing called the internet, which allows you to order such things as Tastykakes from Philadelphia (if you are too lazy to go to one of the Best of Philly locations to pick some up).

  9. snarkydork, are you saying that you can just use the internet to “order” things from “other places” and it will be “shipped” to you?


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