“On a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley, 101 in the shade, I merge onto Highway 99 past downtown Fresno and steer through the vibrations of heat. I’m headed to the valley’s deep south, to a little farmworker town in a far corner of Kern County called Lost Hills. This is where the biggest irrigated farmer in the world — the one whose mad plantings of almonds and pistachios have triggered California’s nut rush — keeps on growing, no matter drought or flood. He doesn’t live in Lost Hills. He lives in Beverly Hills. How has he managed to outwit nature for so long?”
Somewhat tangential to food (and a book, sorry) but it might also be worth checking out Cadillac Desert. Angelenos in particular might be interested in how water policy helped shape our city and state. Full disclosure, I haven’t been able to get all the way through the book but I keep picking away at it. Also, Pop-Pop Wiremonkey said the characterization of William Mulholland was a bit unfair but I really couldn’t say.
I live in a house overflowing with books; absolutely no need to apologize!
Cadillac Desert is one of those canonical works that I think most everyone should read, especially Californians.
The follow-on to it, A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate, is almost as compelling as it brings up a What If scenario of a major quake hitting the East Bay and destroying levees in the Delta, allowing saltwater intrusion into the California Aqueduct.
That would forever destroy a significant portion of the water SoCal depends on for basic needs.
Regarding Mulholland, I cannot recall how Reisner portrayed him; he was definitely a complex individual. (I thought Wilkman’s assessment of him, in Floodpath was reasonably balanced-ish, but I’m not a scholar.)
“Father Divine was equal parts holy man, charlatan, civil rights leader, and wildly successful restaurateur. The key to his movement’s influence and longevity could be found in the bit that started it all — food.”
“For me, Ernie Mickler’s books, stories, and photographs gave me a sense of place, a well to return to. And for many, I believe Ernie forged a portal into the South — a South unto itself — proudly bound up in all its contradictions. He helped Southerners of all strata hold onto their roots, spanning the spectrum from blue-blood aristocrats to rednecks. But more specifically, he helped queer folks find that root in a place that — particularly during the AIDS plague of the 1980s — wanted to expel them.”
Seriously, there is a lot of excellent long-form, food-related journalism happening (it’s actually kind of overwhelming to contemplate the vast amount of information that is now so readily available). Always new things learn, new stories to hear, new concepts to explore. We’re really lucky!
It looks like the Wayback Machine from Internet Archive managed to grab a lot of the Lucky Peach content before the site was taken down. Formatting is a bit wonky, and not all the images loaded for me, but the text is there:
I’m running into random error messages (likely a result of user error: I haven’t spent time learning how to navigate the Wayback Machine interface), but here’s the Lucky Peach stuff: