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Photo by Eric Lewis, used under CC license

“You’re used to being lectured by distinguished guests… I’m the guy who writes about taco stands,” says Jonathan Gold to a room full of University of Oregon School of Journalism students, professors, staff, and a few others who are intrigued by the lecture.

Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles’ top food critic came to the University of Oregon on Thursday, April 7, to give a taste of what makes a Pulitzer winning food critic. He didn’t focus on his awards, or where he worked, or his background. Gold spoke more about his experiences, his delights in food, and who he is when he travels—a guy who is emotionally attached to his guidebooks and cannot stray from them.

Gold tells a story about how a guidebook led him and some other journalists and foodies to a small, out of the way restaurant in Italy. The food they found there surpassed all of their expectations and more. It was that experience he says, that really made him believe in the power of guidebooks.

So how does a guy who puts his travel experiences in the hands of guidebooks feel about the necessity of having sustainable, local, seasonal, and organic food?

“Food that’s grown locally tastes better. Food that’s seasonal, tastes better… the only times [local, sustainable, and seasonal food] seems dreary are those times when everyone is serving the same exact thing at the exact same time,” Gold says.

Gold says that if we only focus on local foods than the diet we will be living off of, will be very boring. And in a world where food is what life revolves around, it is not surprising that he feels a little variation is necessary.

Gold says he once found an inchworm hanging out on a piece of lettuce in a salad he ordered at a new, three star Michelin French restaurant in New York city. He was sitting at the table playing with the inchworm, letting it squirm “from one finger to the next,” when the maître d’ of the restaurant spotted him. Gourmet Magazine food critic at the time, Gold had quite a power over how the restaurant was to be perceived by the public and the matradee knew it. In a rush to fix the error of letting an inchworm pass the lettuce inspection, the matradee offered all he could to keep Gold—the critic—appeased.

Gold laughs, a worm in the lettuce to him means “there are no pesticides; the produce is fresh.”