If you've been to Little India (Pioneer Blvd in Artesia between South and Artesia, near the big Cerritos shopping mall, accessible from the Norwalk/I-605 green line station on the Long Beach 173 bus), you've probably noticed the Artesia Bakery (18627 S. Pioneer Blvd, 562 865 1201). With its blue-and-white awning, it looks distinctly out of place among the Indian restaurants and shops. For some reason, I had always assumed that it was Portugese. I had built a whole worldview around this, including a former Portugese community that had been replaced over the years by the Indians until only the Artesia Bakery was left.
Well, the other day I finally went into the Artesia Bakery. Looking around, I came across some pastries and cookies etc with Dutch names. That's odd, I thought, what are Dutch names doing in a Portugese bakery? Well, duh, it's a Dutch bakery. They have some ornamental tiles, which Portugese people like, and blue and white *is* sort of a Portugese color scheme, but okay, no, it's a Dutch bakery, and it claims to have been "owned and operated by the Lakeman Family since December 5th 1952".
And it's a good one. I bought several pastries, and they were both unfamiliar and good. I'm afraid I can't reconstruct the names. The best was a small frosted almond pie; the almond filling was moist and had more of an almond kick than you sometimes get in French almond pastries. A flat pastry was filled with something like liver pate. Another, along the bottom roe, with lemon jam, though it was that kind of "lemon" flavor that bears the same relationship to lemons that "orange" soda bears to oranges. In any case, I found it all to be a welcome break from the French, Chinese, and Mexican pastries that dominate LA generally.
If anyone has any actual evidence to support or refute my evidently overblown memory of a Portugese community in that area, do tell. I'm pretty sure there are other Portugese businesses further along, so I'm probably not completely making it up.
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