“To Live and Dine in L.A.” showcases the vast menu collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and celebrates the rich, as-of-yet-untold, history of restaurants and food in the City of Angels. Beginning Saturday, June 13, the project will include a major exhibition at Central Library and the publication of the first book to explore the colorful history of restaurants and menus in Los Angeles (Angel City Press), written and edited by USC Annenberg Professor Josh Kun.
“To Live and Dine in L.A.” tackles the timely and critically important topic of food justice, showing us how vintage menus can serve as documents that go beyond the table, acting instead as guides to the politics, economics, and sociology of eating. The project is the second in a series of collaborations between the Library Foundation and the Los Angeles Public Library to explore the Library’s extensive collections. The first was 2013’s “Songs in the Key of L.A.,” which showcased the Library’s sheet music collection.
The “To Live and Dine in L.A.” book and exhibition will feature rare first edition menus from the Library’s collection, in addition to menu templates and menu printing materials donated to the Library by Lord Printing Company, a business that designed, printed, and delivered menus daily to landmark Los Angeles restaurants – including Bob's Big Boy, The Brown Derby, and Perino's – for most of the last century. The exhibition will also include photos from the Library's collection; artist installations by Karla Diaz, Haruko Tanaka, and Fallen Fruit; and short films featuring local chefs Micah Wexler, Cynthia Hawkins, and restaurateur Bricia Lopez.
The Foundation and Library will further celebrate the changing historical role of food in L.A. with over 50 food and menu-related programs coming to life in branches of the Los Angeles Public Library. From story times to cooking demonstrations, nutrition workshops to conversations about history, these programs will span the six regions of the Library's 73 locations starting in June, helping to raise awareness of food access and food insecurity in contemporary Los Angeles.
Please visit lfla.org/live-and-dine for more information about the “To Live and Dine in L.A.” project. Spread the word and join the conversation about Los Angeles’ food history online by tagging your tweets and posts with #ToLiveandDineLA. To explore the menu collection and other special collections, visit www.lapl.org/collections-resources/visual-collections.