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A Saturday at Artisanal LA
Los Angeles is undoubtedly one of United States' urban hot spots and one that is known for its sunny weather and beautiful beaches. With an ever growing population of over 4 million people, it is also one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation. With diversity, comes creativity and innovation and that is why LA is considered by many a pioneer when it comes to food trends and events.
I had the chance to check out Artisanal LA Spring Marketplace this Saturday along with the rest of the team here at myPanier. Living in Southern California for almost 5 years, I've rarely ventured into Downtown LA, unappealed by the tension that comes with its traffic congestion. However, at the 13th floor of the California Market Center actually lies a gem within the heart of this bustling city.
Even on the weekends, LA residents are constantly rushing from one place to another. What is most surprising about Artisanal LA is that it harbors a subculture that embraces slowing down, and well, enjoying life! Unlike the angry drivers whom I encountered on my way here, everyone at the event was full of smiles. Whether it's an optimistic artisan waiting for customers to approach his or her booth or a delighted customer sampling food, not once did I run into an unfriendly soul.
Within the first 15 minutes of exploring the venue, I was already drawn to the pungent aroma coming from Brothercary's stall. One of the girls working there, Ally, noted my curiosity and motioned me over for a cup of her coconut chicken bone broth. Immediately, I was able to associate this warm broth with the ones my mom and grandpa spent hours slaving in the kitchen for growing up. Ally confirmed that she and her sister, Jan, had indeed simmered chicken bones on and off for two days in a commercial kitchen to create this nutrient-dense soup. A lot of questions began revving up in my mind, but the biggest one was what inspired these young ladies to make bone broth, something usually mastered by the older generations of my culture.
Like me, Ally and Jan had grown up in a Cantonese Chinese family where soups have to be made from scratch. Many people nowadays crave home-cooked meals but do not have the time to make food as labor-intensive as bone broths. These sisters were determined to pay homage to their heritage by creating pre-made bone broths easily accessible to the public without sacrificing quality in flavor or ingredients. Knowing that there are better alternatives for broths out there sure deter me from ever mixing chicken bouillon and water ever again!
I made my way to the rest of the indie food makers and had to set down the bowl of dumplings I bought from Brothecary to try Paragon Jams. A sweet lady gave me a sample of their signature jams, the Pear Tarragon, and its texture was unbelievably reminiscent of velvety pears with hints of star anise! I asked her whether these were homemade and she directed me to the gentleman on the side wearing a black Paragon Jams apron and eagerly holding a tray of assorted fruit jams. Terry, who was also the owner, proudly told me that he used organic and local fruits to make his jams and cooked them in small batches by hand. He used to give out his delicious jams for Christmas presents until demand grew, prompting him to enlighten the rest of Los Angeles with his craft.
Besides yummy artisanal food, the fair also offered a myriad of intricate goods to shop for, such as witty plant pots from Plant Puns, and DIY activities to try out like watercoloring from 25 Beautiful Things.
Through Artisanal LA, I was able to experience the magic that happens when people gather and bond over a hobby or a passion: a community forms. Similar to Artisanal LA, myPanier strives to emphasize on the people behind the food and their stories to foster more personal connections whether locally or globally.