Sunday, November 30, 2008

The little devil

I read somewhere in an interview with Jonathan Gold, L.A. Weekly's Pulitzer Prize winning food writer, that one of his favorite places to go for food in L.A. was the Alameda Swap Meet.

So with a free day on our hands, I asked [The Man I Love] if we could go explore it. He agreed with enthusiasm. He was pretty hungry.

The Swap Meet is located in a dreary warehouse district south of downtown L.A. We saw the bright yellow sign for the swap meet and pulled into the parking lot, located behind a high fence of brightly painted iron.

Right by the entrance, just before a couple of food vendor carts, was a shrine to Our Lady of Guadelupe, protected by a low iron fence and a sign admonishing visitors to respect and help maintain it. Strings of lights, artificial flowers, and a figurine of Mary supplemented the image of the Virgin behind the glass.

Although the fruit and corn vendors at the entrance looked tempting, we decided to explore before having something to eat. We went through the first building, and emerged into an open space between the two main buildings of the Swap Meet. It was bordered on one side by long low buildings that housed the meat and produce vendors.

The front of the main building was covered with an awning, and a long window for the main food vendor, El Diablo Antojitos.

They already had their decorations up for Christmas. There were families sitting at the outdoor tables, enjoying food. Kids were laughing and running around. There were at least two musicians performing live, and there were also several TVs, tuned to different stations, showing Spanish-language programs at full volume. It was a festive and cacophonous soundscape, making it a challenge to order food through the narrow windows, but still bringing a smile to our faces.

You ordered and paid for your food and your drinks, and then served yourself beverages. There were lots of choices of meat for tacos - the usual chicken, carne asada, al pastor, but also more unusual meats such as cesos, cabeza, and lengua.

We each had a carnitas taco and a chorizo taco. They came unadorned - there was a huge well-stocked salsa bar with all kinds of garnishes so you could have them your way.

The fillings on our tacos was abundant. The carnitas tasty and tender. The chorizo was not loose cooked sausage, as I've had in other taquerias, but chunks and slices of link sausage. The dark red salsa was intensely flavored, pure chile. We enjoyed being able to sample the pickled vegetables and the slaw-like curtido set out for accompanying pupusas.

We each had a agua fresca to drink. [The Man I Love] had a limeade, and I had a tamarindo. They were both refreshing and good to cool the chile heat from the dark red salsa.

Off to one side was another vendor stall selling seafood - there was a pan piled high with cockles in the shell. I'd never seen that before. Diners were enjoying oysters on the half-shell. It all looked wonderful.

There were vendors selling corn - roasted corn, steamed corn, and corn cut from the cob and served in dishes. The cut corn was served with your choice of seasoning - lime, butter, mayonnaise, cheese, chile.

We tried some with mayo and cheese, but the rich toppings were overpowering. We felt that next time we'd rather have it plain, with a little lime or chile.

This little devil looks like he enjoyed his dinner, doesn't he?


shrink on the couch said...

oh no! where'd the sub shop go?

SUEB0B said...

You enjoy living in LA more than anyone I know - I mean you really get out and explore. Fantastic!

KatCollects said...

It looks like a fun day.

JCK said...

I'm telling should be writing that little book. You've got buyers here. :)

sexy said...
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