Tuesday, June 03, 2008

(06.03.08) Recommends:

Goat Stew.
El Parian,
1528 W. Pico Blvd.

This post is years in the making. And as with most interesting Los Angeles food stories, it all starts with Jonathan Gold. Jonathan Gold is a food critic for the LA Weekly. But he's not your parents' food critic. He's like the mad scientist of food writing: on one hand, his stuff reads more like stories from back issues of Punk Planet than Gourmet magazine; on the other hand, his rock 'n roll aesthetic belies the fact that he was awarded a Pultizer Prize in 2007 (the first food critic so honored). He has also turned his writing into perfect little radio documentaries for This American Life (scroll ahead to 45:12 to get to his story).

It was from that radio tale that we first heard Jonathan Gold talk about the goat stew at El Parian. At the time, he was living off Pico Blvd and got the idea to eat at every restaurant on Pico. When we first heard this episode we pictured Pico being perhaps a five or six mile street with a high concentration of ethic restaurants. We thought it was a cute idea. Then we moved to Los Angeles. And drove along Pico Blvd. And let's just say, claiming you are going to eat at every restaurant on Pico Blvd would be roughly equivalent to saying you are going to eat at every restaurant in Kansas (and probably even a bit more audacious). It's the first time we sensed that Jonathan Gold marches to the beat of a different drummer. We knew we had to seek out El Parian.

It's a bit hard to find because it takes up two store fronts and one of the store fronts perpetually looks closed.

But as the little blue sign in the corner indicates it is open. In fact, when we called the restaurant we were informed that it's open from 7:30am-9pm. Which is to say, people really really like the goat stew here. And apparently are willing to come very early to get it.

The menu. Although it's a little blurred out, the menu says "A Bit of Mexico in Los Angeles."

And lest you think that El Parian is joking about playing by it's own rules, you flip the menu around and find this startling proclamation.

Here's a close up.

"We reserve the right to serve beer to anyone 0-4 Maximum." For anybody who has ever eaten at a restaurant full of screaming toddlers and thought, "god, nothing would shut those small children up like serving them four beers!", well, El Parian appears to be just what you've been seeking. However, they took one look at us and, perhaps wisely, served us Diet Coke.

We've been reading lots of food books lately, mostly about how we as a culture eat, what might be wrong with that way, and how might we move forward. And one of the things of which we're convinced is that the future of food is in transparency. El Parian already understands this because as you first walk in you hear the cooks thump-thump-thumping away at goat meat and you see vats of goat right from your table.

And out of those vats comes a delicious bowl of steaming goat stew. We devoured this thing at about 10:45am and did not have to eat the rest of the day. We have yet to find a friend who is willing to travel to El Parian with us, but regardless, we can't wait to get back.

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