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Off Topic: Seeing the world through the eyes of Jonathan Gold

Consider the falafel.

If people ever ask what I do for a living - and after I've navigated the follow-up issue of whether I play games all day; I was once asked that while having a lumbar puncture - I generally say that I spend a lot of time thinking about how to describe things. Games are complicated pieces of technology and thought, and, in truth, anyone can have an opinion about something. So description seems to be the bit of the job that I find the most challenging and rewarding: what is something trying to do and how does it feel? What is it?

I'm not brilliant at this - which is why it's both challenging and rewarding. But I am always on the look out for people who do this description business well. And sooner or later, I always turn to Counter Intelligence, the only book from Jonathan Gold, the late, great restaurant critic from Los Angeles and the only person to ever win a Pulitzer from writing about food.

Even before reading any of his work, Gold struck me as an enormously appealing man. At first glance, with his Sipowicz build and frazzled hair, his fondness for old leather jackets, he could be mistaken for a roadie, perhaps for some legacy US band like Santana. On second look there is something almost aristocratic in that face, something of George the Fourth, or perhaps even General Washington. Gold travelled around LA in his pick-up truck finding the best in what he called "ethnic food". He reviewed the big places when he had to, but he was happiest, it seems, in a mini-mall, eating great Ethiopian dishes, say, and telling the rest of the world about what he had discovered.

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