“You know what I could go for right now? In N Out,” my friend said wistfully. “Or Roscoe’s. Mmmhm, chicken and waffles…”
A collective moan from the rest of us. We took turns: Koobideh. Carne asada. Tacos. Pho. A decent salad. One of the joys — and miseries — of traveling is the food. There are so many delicious (or strange) things to try, so many things that could get you sick, so many things that you wish you could bring back home.
We had been in China nearly a month, and in Sichuan for almost a week. The small village we were staying in had limited options; we were eating nearly the same thing every day: corn bread or soup noodles for breakfast, and for lunch and dinner, some combination of pan-fried potatoes, spicy eggplant, vegetable or sparerib and daikon soup, homemade Mosuo sausage and fatty cured pork, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, and a few other ubiquitous dishes. Not bad, but not much in the way of variety.
Living in Southern California – Los Angeles in particular – had spoiled us. We were too used to variety, and too rarely eating the same thing twice in the same week; one of the benefits of living in LA was being able to get nearly any kind of food we could possibly want, any time we wanted.
Case in point: Just before our China trip, my traveling partner Diana and I ventured out to Grand Central Market in Downtown LA – this was my first time going to Grand Central Market despite living within striking distance my entire life.
Diana and I walked up and down the aisles of spices and herbs, past the crates of fresh fruits and uncountable bean varieties, past the stalls with tortas, flautas, sopes, carnitas, cabeza, whole chickens, just-baked pizzas, Italian sandwiches, Chinese take out, fresh seafood, high-calorie pastries and Hawaiian barbecue. After a considerable amount of hemming and hawing, we settled on one of my favorites: Salvadorian pupusas.
We watched as the chef made each one of our pupusas, taking flat circles of dough, stuffing one with cheese and pork and the other with cheese and garlic, then plopping them down and flipping them on the sizzling grill until each side crisped to a golden brown. She topped the hot savory pupusas with a sour, crunchy cole slaw and a spicy red sauce – the perfect combination.
If you’re in LA, make sure to stop by Sarita’s Pupuseria in downtown to grab one of these golden morsels for yourself.
at Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway #41
Los Angeles, California 90013
What kinds of food do you miss the most when you’re traveling?
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