Jamie's American Road Trip: Los Angeles Episode [video]


Last night Channel 4 in the UK aired the premiere episode of Jamie's American Road Trip — the series opener was set in Los Angeles, focusing on the Mexican-American culture and cuisine.

Avoiding glitz and glamor, Oliver doesn't stay in a fancy hotel or eat at four-star restaurants, but instead rents an apartment in East LA's Mexican neighborhood. Food and family are central part of the culture: He goes to a birthday party, checks out Homeboy Industries, the organization that works with former gang members that operates a bakery and a Mexican café, and attends a funeral celebration with ex-gang members. He goes fishing at Redondo Beach, pays a visit to the Alameda Swap Meet, and finally, prepares the food at a baptism celebration.

It's an effective and poignant portrayal of Mexican-American culture in Los Angeles, interspersed with Oliver's social commentary and pontificating. But bizarrely, Jamie Oliver doesn't do a lot of eating; No Reservations this is not. Except for a couple of all-too-short instances, you never get to see experts prepare the food. Instead, he does most of the cooking, solo. Clearly it's his own interpretations of Mexican cuisine, but we barely see where the inspiration is coming from.

Conveniently, said interpretations and recipes are of course available in his cookbook, Jamie's America — which is fine, he's exposing new and different cuisines to an audience that wouldn't even know where to begin. But perhaps Jamie Explores America and Then Cooks Food might have been a better title. Regardless, it's a good show, and we'll keep watching.

Here are a couple of videos from the show: the intro and Jamie at the birthday party, helping make gorditas and then dancing, showing moves a lot less refined than when he dressed up as the Village People and busted a move.

Video: Intro to Jamie's American Road Trip

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Video: Birthday Party

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—Raphael Brion

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Comment Feed

  1. I met with the producers earlier in the year when they were before filming and shared my list of favorite places in East LA and around the area. It was interesting to me that they didn't seem entirely food focused as much as culturally and now I'm excited to see the show when we get it in the US. Viva la raza, that's all I'm sayin...

  2. Birthday party:

    That's my mom, Maria del Refugio de la Peña Salcedo at my parent's backyard patio in Wilmington. She also made menudo, enfrijoladas and salsa fresca that night. Jamie Oliver very charming and respectful. Our parties aren't always like that though, usually more raucous. Great segment. Looking forward to seeing the entire series.

  3. I thought it was pretty good, although I agree that he spread himself a bit thin. It's similar in style to the Italian road trip where the focus is more on interplay between food and culture, but the stops on the Italian road trip were probably nowhere near as diverse as the ones on this trip will be, so I guess some of the depth is lost.

    I don't really have a problem with separation of the project into TV and book. The book isn't that expensive and it's good to be able to just enjoy the show and then go to the book for the recipes.

    I learned a few things. I am fairly ignorant of Mexican cuisine and now I know a bit more... but maybe not as much as I'd like to. Maybe the book will provide more. On the other hand, his goal is usually to broaden peoples' culinary horizons and he seems to have done a good job at that.

    Was it just me or did I detect that he left on bad terms with that lady in the market who gave him the hallucinogenic wild fungus? :)

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