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Culture in between Koreatown and MacArthur Park

Written by Jessica Flores, Treasurer 

Last Sunday I woke up to my mom telling me to wake up and get dressed so that we could buy yuca frita and chicharrónes (fried cassava and pork belly). A classic Salvadoran meal.

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Women wake early to begin their sale of traditional Salvadoran dishes, a cultural tradition in Los Angeles.

I didn’t think much of where we’d buy this meal but once we got there, I quickly felt the Salvadoran culture well and alive in Los Angeles. We went to, as I like to call it, the Salvadoran version of your regular Angelenos farmer’s market. It was located on James M. Wood Blvd and Vermont Avenue; in between Koreatown and MacArthur Park area.

Many women, along with their mighty helpers, had their cooking station set up down James M. Wood Blvd. We began our yuca frita and chicharrónes hunt at the entrance near Vermont Avenue.

The first lady on my right was selling fresh orange juice that she squeezed on her juicer. A crowd of people lined up for their share of orange juice to complement the high 80-degree weather. This beverage was the only thing that was not Salvadoran, clearly.

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“He grinned and lifted his hand to show off the bracelets…”

As I kept walking, I saw a young boy, about six years old, sitting on a cooler near his mother’s station. He was holding a Tupperware full of colorful bracelets that he was selling. When I asked his mother for permission to take a photo for reporting purposes, she said, “Yes go ahead. Maybe you will make him famous.” He grinned and lifted his hand to show off the bracelets as I took the picture.

My mother, aunt, and I walked through the gathering of people, the aroma of pupusas and the loud, “Compré sus pupusas aqui!” until we reached the best yuca frita and chicharrónes on the block.

Before reaching the queen of yuca frita and chicharrónes, an elderly woman selling Salvadoran quesadilla bread caught my eye. She looked about 80+ years old, but that didn’t stop her from publicizing what she was selling. She did not have a big station like the other women, but her business was still booming from her laundry cart.

Across the street, there was a bright blue and white booth selling traditional Salvadoran clothing, soccer balls and jerseys, hats and beanies.

What was perhaps a minute walk away from my yuca frita and chicharrónes savoring, it became a path of inspiration and gratitude. Witnessing the diligence and humility on James M. Wood made me realize how proud I am to consider myself a Salvadoran-American.

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