A Chili in the Air

If it’s early fall in Topanga, it must be chili time.

My ingredient list

My ingredient list

Every year, around the first weekend in November, the Topanga Swap Meet & Chili Cook Off rolls around. For a couple years, I was a judge. And then two autumns back, I was convinced by my friend Nonie who helps run the local community house to enter the contest, along with her husband Dan who was also entering. More

Advertisements

All the City’s a Market

It’s one of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles. On any given week, I may visit any number of ethnic markets: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean groceries; Italian delis; Russian and Polish markets; Mexican carnicerias, Oaxacan specialty shops and the Vallarta supermercado; stores dedicated to Persian, Argentine, Hawaiian, British, Spanish, Ethiopian and all other variety of global foods.

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

One market I used to visit periodically if I was in the neighborhood — which happened to be the farmacias, counterfeit sportswear shops and old-theaters-turned-Mexican-iglesias of Broadway in downtown — was the Grand Central Market. An open-air affair spanning the length of the block on the ground floor of a large building, the market opened in 1917 and over the course of recent decades had turned into its equivalent of any similar market in Mexico City, Mazatlan, Guadalajara or a hundred other large Mexican cities — piles of dried chiles, pinto beans, mangos and nopales, cases of stinky meat and pig’s heads, votive candles and fresh corn tortillas. More