Salud! From the new Times Food editor

A glass of jugo verde, or Mexican green juice
Jugo verde ingredients include cucumber, Mexican nopal, serrano chile, limes, mint leaves, spinach and ginger.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

It’s high spring in Southern California and I’ve been eating like it: running around town for tacos and burgers, hitting my favorite farmers markets for blooms of fresh berries and mushrooms, and clawing into restaurants for late dinners, as the sun starts setting further up the clock. The pandemic isn’t finished, but the period of intense wariness over getting together in person has eased. Find me at a local dive or a brewery (where I’ll still reach for an IPA despite it currently being an object of derision). Vaccinated and confident, I feel rejuvenated every time I get to bump elbows with someone new or familiar, and restaurants and bars are so often the perfect place to do so. I consider it part of my health and wellness.

I’m Daniel Hernandez, recently minted Food editor here at The Times. Critic Bill Addison is on a richly deserved vacation. In the meantime, I and other staff writers from your L.A. Times Food team will be pitching in.

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Allow me to introduce myself: I drink this green juice every day, will solemnly swear by pulque, and my favorite meal of the day is breakfast.

A breakfast burrito with chorizo or machaca, wrapped with a borderlands flour tortilla ideally from San Ysidro, is nice. I’m also hugely famous (among my breakfast guests) for my omelets of sliced cactus and mushrooms, with lots of garlic and topped with crumbled queso fresco. Or, on those rushing mornings, I’ll admit to reheating a take-out slice of white pizza and laying a soft fried egg on top, then pounding the thing with red chile flakes — and maybe a drizzle of olive oil?

In short, I’m a practical home cook with not a lot of time on my hands but a few signatures up my sleeve. Like many of our readers, I assume. And though I didn’t grow up in the food industry, I am a journalist who loves to be around food, allowing foods to tell us the stories about ourselves that must be heard. It’s a vibe we built at L.A. Taco. Food is fun, but it can also be misfortune. Working in restaurants can create joy and, just as generously, woe.

My first month on the job has been a whirlwind. I’ve been amazed observing how the Food team actually works.

Their job — to always be around food — is often characterized as “glamorous,” but that belies a reality. To have the freshest intel on what restaurants and chefs are doing in the vastness of Los Angeles County and its neighbors, your dining writers and columnists — Addison, Stephanie Breijo, Jenn Harris and Lucas Kwan Peterson — must be out there, putting in miles and braving SoCal freeways, day after day, trying food everywhere, often chased around town by our lead Food photographer, Mariah Tauger.

Lots of their meals, as you might imagine, are not always good.

In our other branch of coverage, cooking, columnist Ben Mims and writer Julie Giuffrida are out collecting ingredients and in their kitchens, trying recipes over and over to get them just right. The amount of supplies and basics like oils and flours that they must go through, alone, boggles the mind. It’s worth reminding our readers how intense this work is, for all involved — writers, photographers, editors, as well as designers. I’ve been trying to keep up. And honestly, it’s a lot.

But I’m always up for a robust challenge. So is the team, of course. I’m humbled by the kind words of welcome, Food readers. My job is to publish stories about what we eat. So I’m always down for hearing how you think we might improve or expand upon our coverage of food at The Times. Reach out! And salud!

Here are notable stories from the week:

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A man and woman pose for a photo outside a restaurant.
A family photograph of Judy and Lupe Liang of Hop Woo in Chinatown.
(Hop Woo)

Food news

— Breijo reports on the death of Yening “Lupe” Liang, the co-founder of Hop Woo on Broadway in L.A.’s Chinatown. Liang and his wife and partner, Judy Liang, are credited with being the first to make their menus trilingual: Chinese, English and Spanish. After all, the pair met in Rosarito, Baja California.

— There’s a new “tiendita” at the Grove from Alma Cocina de Mexico, Breijo reports in her column This Week in L.A. Restaurants, also, an exciting pan-Asian dinette appears in Long Beach.

— Charcuterie boards or “adult Lunchables” are fun to gawk at, Mims writes, but snacks-for-dinner is an actual thing, as these recipes by Lukas Volger show.

— Cinco de Mayo deserves some absolution — as an excuse to cook proper Mexican food, Giuffrida notes in her weekly compilation of recipes from The Times archive.

— Also, Mother’s Day is coming up. Giuffrida has you covered.

— What to eat now? There’s a writer for that: This week Harris tells us about the fascinating focaccia bread ice cream at Antico Nuovo on Beverly, and more.

A glass dish of melted-looking ice cream with crumbles on top sits on a wooden table.
The focaccia bread ice cream at Antico Nuovo.
(Emma Costello)