Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bacon Dogs, the real L.A. street food

One of the reasons I love to shop the flower mart and garment district of downtown L.A. is the street food, like the tacos, tamales, and licuados other stuff. But the best street is the bacon dogs, complete with grilled onions, peppers, and zanahorias con chiles. Those are the pickled jalapenos with carrots, not quite as hot, yet they still pack a punch. Drew Carey at reason.TV has lots to say about the subject.

Well, now things have changed and what was once a thriving little entrepreneurial concern has now become a bigger issue, involving fines, arrests and jail time. Are we the only major city in the world that has no real street food culture? And to make things worse, now the taco trucks are getting a bad rap, with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors enforcing new rules that will eventually put most of the trucks out of business.

We find it strange that in the midst of all this food legislation, Food & Wine magazine, the folks who bring you that top-rated and sometimes over-the-top reality show, "Top Chef" currently features an article about some of the best street food to be found in these here United States. We are sorry to find that Los Angeles is not included in the list. And remember last season in San Francisco? The chefs had a team challenge to take street food up a notch and yet keep its simplicity. Hmm. There is a link to that article above.

We should all use common sense when we make choices about what we eat, whether in a real sit-down restaurant or at your Aunt Matilda's. If the food doesn't look or smell good, don't eat it. Fish should smell clean like the ocean. Chicken should not be red in the middle. Keep hot things hot and cold things cold.

I have had my share of bad meals, and the stomach upsets that follow. Yet I never got sick eating a bacon dog from the cart vendor downtown. The fresh orange juice lady on the corner across from culinary school had the cleanest shopping cart I have ever seen. And the pupusa lady on the next corner always had folks queuing up early in the morning. I have had the most delicious meals in places with a red "B" rating, and some of the worst disasters at squeaky clean "A" restaurants.

Here is the response to a letter I sent to my local county supervisor in support of our local street food vendors:
"Thank you for contacting my office to share your views regarding the proposed changes to the Los Angeles County peddling ordinance. Please be aware that this ordinance is effective only in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and it will become effective after May 15, 2008.

The changes to the ordinance allow vendors to remain in one location in a commercial zone for one hour, which is one-half hour longer than permitted under the existing ordinance. Los Angeles County is not the only jurisdiction that places time restrictions on vending; cities that
border the unincorporated areas have similar restrictions.

Although not everyone is pleased with this ordinance, please be aware that sidewalk vending has never been permitted in Los Angeles County. Our ordinance is a compromise that will allow vending in a manner that protects the health and welfare of our residents, and respects the needs of our business community."

I appreciate your taking the time to express your views. If you require additional assistance with a County-related matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (323) 881-4601. Thank you."

Looks like it's a done deal. All that is left to say is that if you are fortunate to have street food vendors in your 'hood, please give them your support.

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