Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Putting the 'MA' In Mardi Gras

Today is Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras, and no doubt the home of the World Champion New Orleans Saints have an even bigger fete this year.

Tonight, the Militant will be going to a private Mardi Gras party at the house of an operative of Louisiana heritage!

No doubt, the focus is on New Orleans today. But being the Militant Angeleno (as opposed to the Militant New Orleanian), he's gonna take you from "L.A." to "La." - and back.

The Militant has been to New Orleans before (the photo above was taken by the Militant during his visit there), during an unspecified year in the last decade. As usual when he travels, he likes to immerse himself in the destination city's culture, and also learn about its people, urban life, infrastructure and layout - and usually compares and contrasts between the destination city and his own.

Believe it or not, though the tiny Crescent City is vastly different than the ginormous City of Angels, there are a few things shared in common between them (yes, aside from Reggie Bush).

Both cities were founded by a river, have a "Mid-City" district, are important coastal port cities and are multicultural cities that have spawned fusion cuisines. Both cities have a huge Catholic influence. Interstate 10 runs through both The Big Easy and The Big Orange. And singer/songwriter Randy Newman has written songs about both cities - he grew up in both of them.

But here's something interesting the Militant discovered: Both Los Angeles and New Orleans have streets named "Rampart" and "Carondelet" that are not only parallel to each other but just a couple blocks apart, with both Ramparts located to the northwest of the Carondelets. Both pairs of streets in both cities run in a diagonal direction, from the southwest o the northeast. In New Orleans, the streets are located in the Downtown area, in Los Angeles, they are located in the Historic Filipinotown and Westlake districts.

Perhaps it was intentional -- in what is now Historic Filipinotown, just behind the former Rampart Police Station (which was on Benton Way and not Rampart Blvd), lies Hyans St, which was the first block in Los Angeles where African Americans were able to own their own property.
Being that most African Americans who settled in Los Angeles in the late 1800s-early 1900s came from places like Louisiana and Texas (and prior to World War II, they settled in places like Mid City and Jefferson Park), they probably not only brought the names of places familiar to them, but familiar architecture as well.

Along Hyans St, Benton Way and Council St in the aforementioned block, a few "shotgun" houses (pictured left) can be seen, and are hardly found anywhere else in Los Angeles. These narrow houses, designed without a shared interior hallway, are a familiar sight in the South, particularly in Louisiana. Their name derives from the fact that one can fire (in a straight line) a shotgun from the backyard to the front yard, provided all the doors of the house are open.

But enough of the history lesson for now, it's time to party! laist.com recently listed places where one can get their Mardi Gras on this week.

But the Militant is also familiar with some other places that will garon-tee you a lil bit of dat N'awlins flava:

Harold & Belle's - this Jefferson Park restaurant serves up some of the finest Creole cuisine in Los Angeles for over 40 years. The Militant celebrated his birthday with some of his closest operatives a few years ago and everyone was both happy and extremely full. The menu is a bit on the pricey side, but it's more than worth it considering the portions they give you. The Militant ordered the fried catfish, and well, had enough fried catfish to last him until lunch the next day. The desserts are divine as well, do try their bread pudding. 2920 West Jefferson Blvd, (323) 735-9023

La Louisianne - another fine-dining Creole restaurant, located just over the Baldwin Hills near Inglewood. The gumbo is spectacular. Drop by at night and check out the live jazz, blues and soul music entertainmenr. 5812 Overhill Dr (at Slauson), (323) 293-5073.

New Orelans Fish Market - Not a restaurant, but if you're into doing your own cooking, check out this store in Jefferson Park for your ingredients and seafood needs. One of the Militant's operatives, who's a damn good cook, goes here for his crawfish supply all the time. 2212 West Vernon Avenue (at Arlington), (323) 296-3817

And while you're at it, you can groove to the sound of the Los Angeles-based, New Orleans style brass band Critical Brass!

Laissez les bon temps rouler! Where y'at?!


Valleypinoy said...

RIP Creole Chef at the Crenshaw Plaza

Militant Angeleno said...

Valleypinoy: The Militant was going to include that but it slipped his mind in the rush of finishing the post. So it really closed? If so, there MUST be another place to find hush puppies!