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SGV Adventures: El Mercado in East L.A.

Dommy! | Nov 17, 200507:14 PM

This was my first quarter starting school. I was really nervous because I hadn’t been in school for a very long time and when I was there, I HATED it. But this first semester has been going great!! I’ve hardly had to go to class at all! ;)

My class actually had me out working directly with the Community, and when the community is East L.A. there are lots of Chow opportunities, like a visit to El Mercado on Lorena and First (Right behind the Gold Line Construction!)

El Mercado has been an East L.A. institution for generations. Inside is pretty much like any Mercado in Mexico, full of stalls selling clothes, jewelry and music. However, I was here for the chow, and upon main entrance, it did not disappoint. The first few stalls were all about sweets. Since it's pumpkin season, slabs of rich pie pumpkins baked with brown sugar, cinnamon, clove and other spices were all on display. It was so hard to walk past but I knew I would return after dinner… So went upstairs to the food stalls… and began to case out the various food stands. There was a standard Mexican Kitchenette right at the entrance. It had all sorts of steam table Guisados (Mexican Saucey dishes) like Chile Verde, Chile Colorado, Cueritos and they all look wonderful! I also spied a huge pie of fresh fried gorditas and mounds of pillowy carnitas. I managed to tear myself away and head down the Mariscos stand… but not before I was intercepted…

“Hi! Would like to try some Mole?!”

All of a sudden I had half a popsicle stick shoved towards me. It was the spice vendor, another MUST in a real Mercado. She had industrial food buckers full of various blends of spices and moles. Even a bucket with the most amazing looking fresh made Cajeta. I tried the Mole, which was okay… then I asked for a taste of the Mole Poblano… She happily produced another stick and I tried and YOW…

Needless to say, I’m now having lots of Mole Enchiladas next week!:)

But with me being the starving student and all, the Mole purchase blew my dessert budget. The mariscos stand didn’t look so hot, so I went back to the Mexican Kitchen (Actually called La Cocina)

I ordered a Gordita de Carnitas and a Sidral. You don’t get much more Mexican than that!! And the Gordita was wonderful. Not as big as the ones from Ana Maria’s. Also not as generous with the meat. But the actual Gordita was VASTLY superior. Ligheter, crisper, held together beautifully…

It was sad to walk past the dessert vendors again not being able to take home some squash. But luckily Pumpkin season is not over yet and I don’t have class again next Monday! ;)


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