Over this summer and fall, the Library Foundation and the Los Angeles Public Library collaborated on “To Live and Dine in L.A.,” a special project to examine the role of restaurants and food in the shaping of our great food capital. The programs included an interactive exhibit, which Los Angeles Magazine called “magnificent.” The exhibit at the Central Library’s Getty Gallery closes on Friday, November 13. As we look back below at a few highlights from all the “To Live and Dine” activities over the last few months, don’t miss your last chance to experience this special look at food and L.A. history in-person at Central Library.
Bringing to light the Library’s vast collection of more than 9,000 menus dating from 1875 to the present, “To Live and Dine in L.A.,” kicked off over the summer with a new book, the special exhibition, and a range of public programs with local food experts, including chefs Roy Choi and Cynthia Hawkins, food critic Jonathan Gold, urban gardener Ron Finley, and more.
Watch highlights from “To Live and Dine in L.A.: A Live Mixtape” at The Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Through music, film, storytelling, and more, an all-star line-up of very special guests took the audience on a journey through the menu collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and also shined an important light on the issues of food insecurity currently facing the city.
With project curator and book author Josh Kun at the helm, “To Live and Dine in L.A” offered a living repository of urban eating to reflect on our food’s past, present, and future. The menu project connected pivotal moments in L.A.’s changing socioeconomic history to its consumption of food. The book published by Angel City Press, To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City, is available at The Library Store.
“As the project celebrated an important historical menu collection, it has also drawn attention to serious issues such as food insecurity and hunger that impact our city to this day,” said Ken Brecher, president of the Library Foundation.
Through the book, exhibit, public events, and national media coverage, the current state of food impoverishment across Los Angeles was brought to the table, and sparked what will hopefully become a more urgent conversation about food activism across the city. Read some of the top stories following “To Live and Dine”:
From The New Yorker:
“…Examined in aggregate, menus can reveal more than what kind of food was for sale, at what price, and when. Within them are clues to much larger stories as well: population shifts, environmental changes, technological developments, and cultural transformations. The Rare Books Room at the Los Angeles Public Library contains plenty of landmark documents from the city’s history.” –Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker
“Through displaying photographs of vintage menus, To Live and Dine in L.A. not only celebrates the city’s finest diners, drive-ins and dives, but also serves up a critical analysis of the socioeconomic disparity, racism and hunger that often accompany the culinary arts.” –Paula Mejia, Newsweek
Learn more about all these programs and how to view the exhibit closing November 15 at lfla.dev/live-and-dine.