Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Gumbo Pot

Elizabeth and I were originally going to take her mom over to Venice Beach and Santa Monica for the afternoon - a part of town I do not like, although I certainly appreciate the value in showing an East-Coaster the area. But then I came up with one of the better ideas I have had lately: instead of doing that, why not drive through the hills to Beverly Hills, cruise down the Sunset Strip, and visit the L.A. Farmers Market?

In existence for decades, the Farmers Market LA features dozens of food stands and sit-down eateries, spanning a wide range of cuisines. Years ago, when I lived much closer to the Farmers Market and my eating habits we much more simple (read: boring), this was the one place my brother and I could always come without any disagreement. He would get a gyro from Moishe's, I would get fried shrimp from Tusquella's, we'd grab beers from E.B's, sit on the patio, feed the pigeons and people watch, and everything would be right with the world.

One of the first things Elizabeth and I ever did together shortly after she'd moved to L.A. was to stop for lunch at the market. I ordered a slice of pizza so disgusting that she refused to try it; that was the only slice of pizza of my life that I refused to finish. We knew we wouldn't be going there on this day.

As we walked from the east end of the market to the west, I pointed out to the ladies several places I like and a couple I do not. At the end of the stroll I offered three suggestions: Loteria, Moishe's, or the Gumbo Pot. They talked for a few seconds and decided to try the Gumbo Pot, due in no small part I'm sure to the fact that we were standing right there.

There was no one in line when we stepped up to the counter, although within two minutes there would be about ten people lined up behind us.
Elizabeth and her mom got a shrimp po' boy to split. I ordered these more than once years ago, and I was never impressed with them. But this sandwich, when it arrived, was much different than the ones I remember: bigger, fresher bread, with more shrimp. It looked really good, and the ladies really liked it. 

Elizabeth drank a root beer but her mom wanted something stronger, so she wandered over to the wine bar and picked up an ice cold Tecate. I rarely drink beer with lunch anymore, but that looked really good to me. I took a look at the beer selection myself: if they'd had Dixie Beer or Turbodog, I would have ordered one. But they did not, so I stuck with my iced tea.

I ordered a plate of fried shrimp, which came with a corn muffin and choice of salads. I chose creole mustard potato salad. The whole thing was fantastic. The shrimp were the perfect combination of crunchy breading and juicy shrimp. The potato salad was light on the the dressing; you could taste the creole spices and mustard, but the whole thing wasn't drowning in dressing, as potato salads too often are. The cajun-style cocktail sauce was delicious. When I received the plate, I thought there was no way I could finish it. But I did (except for the corn muffin).

The three of us split two orders of sweet potato chips. Did we need two orders? Definitely not. One order would have been more than enough. But they were only a couple bucks each and I was really hungry. Too much food was definitely preferable to too little. Besides, there were plenty of people sitting nearby, I knew we could pawn off leftover chips on someone. These chips were very good, just like they have been every single time I have eaten at the Gumbo Pot.

I am very glad we went to the LA Farmers Market. It was a warm day, the food was good and the conversation fun. Lunch for the three of us was $21 and we were all full, a very good deal. After eating, we wandered around, bought some candy, and drove home. It had been more than two and a half years since I had been to the LA Farmers Market and I'd forgotten what a good option it always is for lunch. I will try not to let another couple years go by before I return.


Nosh Gnostic said...

Mmm, swimps!

Anonymous said...

I would have made the same decision.