A video of last summer’s Graff-EAT-i class!

A video of last summer’s Graff-EAT-i class!

I had to share this video from last summer’s Graff-EAT-i class at ESMoA, one of my favorite classes to date…

The blog originally appeared on August 13, 2014 in The Huffington Post. If you’re interested in reading it again, here it is with a different recipe…

It is rare that I get to develop a class around contemporary art and the opportunity to teach from ESMoA’s latest Experience, SCRATCH, is quite a treat. The show combines 16th through 18th century manuscripts from the Getty Research Institute’s (GRI) collection of rare books with art from some of LA’s finest graffiti and tattoo artists. Yes, street art on museum walls is as cool as it sounds, but combining it with Renaissance manuscripts is groundbreaking.

Serving as inspiration for the show is a Liber Amicorum or “Book of Friends”. Comparable to a high school yearbook or the posts on someone’s Facebook wall, the book is one of a series of popular books originally bound with blank leaves and filled with drawings and watercolors by friends. The Liber Amicorum in SCRATCH was owned by Nuremberg merchant Johann Heinrich Gruber, was compiled between 1602 and 1612 and is filled with illustrations by his highfalutin friends. To art collector Ed Sweeney and GRI rare books curator David Brafman, the book resembled the sketchbooks graffiti artists have their friends tag — black books with blank pages that serve as an exchange of memories and ideas.

Brafman, who also curated the Experience, showed the 17th century book to 150 LA graffiti artists who created their own works on paper inspired by it. The results were bound together in the Getty Black Book or LA Liber Amicorum (“Los Angeles Book of Friends)”. Six of its artists, including Axis, Cre8 and Defer, were then selected to pick their own crews and collaborate in transforming ESMoA into a “cathedral of urban art.” In just two weeks, 57 artists with different artistic styles created a space that is as colorful, diverse and alive as Los Angeles itself. Walking into ESMoA made my jaw drop.

This visual slice of the city naturally made me think of street food — and the taco truck — as its culinary equivalent. Like graffiti, street food has existed around the world since antiquity. An urban phenomenon, it has always been convenient and inexpensive and, like graffiti, was traditionally held in low regard. Today food trucks with flavors from the world over are scattered throughout Los Angeles and other major cities and are a normal part of daily life; a slice of life that everyone can afford and enjoy. Graffiti, once seen as a public nuisance, is now being taken into consideration as a serious art form. Thankfully, the times they are a-changin’.

SCRATCH was on view through September 21, 2014. These fajitas were out of this world.




Grilled meats are sold by street vendors from Asia to Africa to Latin America. Grilling involves applying dry heat to the surface of the food caramelizing its surface and creating lots of flavor.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds skirt or flank steak

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and pepper. Place in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Massage the meat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The longer it marinates, the better the flavor.

Remove the steak from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a gas grill to high. Brush the grill grate with oil. Place the meat on the hot grill and cook until meat is nicely charred – 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve with corn tortillas.

Serves 6

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