Laurie Ochoa is arts and entertainment editor at the Los Angeles Times. Before participating in a panel on the rise of downtown L.A., she talked about her strangest job (managing a men’s department store), what she’s reading (a book about a demented form of journalism set in Ukraine), and her favorite condiment (Dijon mustard) in the Zócalo green room.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
In college, I was the men’s department store manager at Miller’s Outpost, so I sold Levi’s and had to know how much 501s shrank. I still remember: 1 inch in the waist, 2-3 inches in the length.
What word or phrase do you use most often?
What are you reading right now?
I just got off the plane from Chicago and was reading Andrey Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin, which was fantastic. It’s kind of about a demented form of journalism and paranoia, set in the Ukraine.
When’s the last time you got a traffic ticket—and why?
I was stopped recently because my husband [restaurant critic Jonathan Gold] was sitting in the back seat and didn’t have his seatbelt on. So that was an odd ticket. He got the ticket, I didn’t—he’s an adult and should know better.
What’s your favorite plant or flower?
I like sunflowers a lot.
What was the first album you bought?
What’s hanging on your living room walls?
Pictures by our friend Virginia Hoge, who’s a painter. Some family pictures. Odd things like that.
How do you procrastinate?
Many, many ways. Email. Radio. TV. Magazines.
What’s your favorite condiment?
I guess Dijon mustard, because you can use it in salad dressing, sandwiches.
What’s the worst thing about being married to a restaurant critic?
[Laughs.] There are times where it can be hard to get through a meal without someone coming up and wanting to talk. Which is usually OK. But if you’re in the middle of a conversation, it can be a little distracting.