Meet your Food Blogger: Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA
Bill Esparza is a professional saxophonist, and the mouth and mind behind food blog Street Gourmet LA. He also teaches a class called Affordable Ethnic Dining at the Burbank Adult School, an eating-intensive class that takes students out into the streets of Los Angeles to diversify their palates and encourage cultural curiosity through culinary traditions. "I was inspired one day, grabbing a bite at an El Salvadorian restaurant with my sister," says Esparza. "I was telling her about pupusas and Salvadorian specialties when a regular overheard. He said, 'I've been going to this place for a year--I thought it was Mexican!'"
There are lots of experienced foodies out there, Esparza explains, "and there are also plenty of people who love interesting food, but don't have the time, interest, or skills to track down the best finds in our huge metropolitan buffet." Esparza doesn't give them an extreme tour, "I don't put them through any extreme eating; it's all accessible foods." The purpose of his class is to expose them to a variety. "It's wonderful watching people's palates and interests open up," Esparza says. "The more food awareness we have, the better our restaurants will become." We tracked down Esparza to ask about his food for thought and thought for food.
Squid Ink: How long have you been blogging about food?
Bill Esparza: I got on blogger in April of 2007, but didn't quite get going until 2008. I teach an ethnic dining class at an adult school, and the blog became a great way to communicate with students.
SI: Tell us more about your ethnic dining class.
BE: The class is called Affordable Ethnic Dining and focuses on learning about world cultures through dining experiences. I take students to regional restaurants point out the unique plates on the menus, and deal with how to enjoy that cuisine. What time of the day is the meal eaten? How do you eat that food?
Some people don't dine in ethnic restaurants because various facets of the dining experience intimidate them. I'm able to arrange special dinners with restaurants, where I might ask them to cook more dishes from their region, or make a special dish that is served on an occasion. It has been a popular class, and a lot of fun, more of a party than anything.