If your idea of New Orleans street food is Lucky Dog, this show probably isn’t for you.
But if you want to peek into the lives (and utensils) of some special people who fall into this more culturally specific subcategory of city cuisine, sit back and try Netflix’s Street Food: USA.
“The uniqueness of the city is its culture and its people,” Creole historian Vance Fockerson says at the start of the hour. “It tells you a story built on immigration – the cultures of Europe, Africa, Asia, indigenous cultures.”
When watching “Street Food,” you will first meet Linda Green, also known as Lady Ya-Ka-Mein. What do you say, Ka Min?
First, it’s not a dish a tourist might think of when looking for a meal that screams New Orleans.
“It’s something more internal,” says Ian McNulty, a food writer for Times-Picayune, in the episode.
McNulty also specifies the ingredients: well-spiced broth, noodles, beef, green onions, and the top should be half a boiled egg.
“Her nickname is Old Super,” McNulty says, explaining that steaming is thought to be a great cure for a hangover after a raucous Big Easy night.
The chef herself, Green, includes another vital ingredient – love.
“New Orleans is music. It’s food. It’s love. I celebrate feeding people. I feed a lot of people,” Green says. “I don’t just cook, I love to cook. Yes, I put that love in my love.”
Greene goes for the old school version of the recipe, provided by her mother.
It links its origins to Asian Americans and former slaves who married, shared the kitchen, and mixed their usual dishes.
“It’s important to me to keep this recipe alive because it’s my recipe and my legacy,” Green says.
Greene’s job in the school cafeteria ended abruptly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Greene, who had always been the breadwinner, had been up her game, selling her ya-ka-mein cork mugs from the back of a truck along the line’s tracks. Second.
“Every time we went out, we’d sell everything we had,” she says. “That’s when I went full time.”
A recent personal coup in the culinary world: Green was asked to sell her mugs of goodness at a jazz festival, and another long line was born at the mega event.
Also featured in the episode:
- Frady’s One Stop Food Store, 3231 Dauphine St. Kirk Frady and his family have been tossing boys for generations at this quaint little cafe. “It’s like a community gathering place in the neighborhood,” says Fradi. “You don’t know how good I feel when people come and eat at Frady’s. The food is a celebration, and I’m a part of it. It makes me feel amazing.”
- Sno-Bliz from Hansen, 4801 Tchoupitoulas St. Ashley Hansen describes her family’s famous snow globes as “a cotton candy, sitting on a fluffy cloud” and attributes this to the ingredient for shaved ice. The razor her grandfather made still flavors the cones with old, natural flavors. Don’t bother asking for recipes, it’s all in Hansen’s head, she says. “Sno balls make everything better. It’s a beautiful backdrop to life.”
- Popup for Mais La Seafood, by day. It can be found at Miel Brewery & Taproom, Zony Mash Beer Project, or St. Claude Avenue at Press Street. (Consult facebook.com/maislacrawfish) James Simon had a career in music and production before deciding to pack it up and bring his family’s Cajun-style crawfish to Crescent City fans. Simon says his father taught him the ins and outs of a boil, and for them, sweet potatoes are a mandatory addition. “I usually sell between 200 and 300 pounds a day,” he states in the presentation. “If I don’t sell it, bring it under the bridge and feed it to the homeless who live there.”
As Green says, “Everyone feels loved here.”
All six episodes of “Street Food: USA,” including episode four, New Orleans, will be available Tuesday on Netflix.