Hitting the Hot Links
October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Before the catastrophic events of Katrina caused a massive diaspora of Louisianans to fan out across the country, Los Angeles boasted the largest population of Cajuns outside of the Pelican State. Many of them, including scores of African Americans, came to the area after World War II in search of the plentiful manufacturing and aerospace jobs that once made South Los Angeles a bastion of working-class achievement. These days, the imprint of Louisianan culture is not as vivid as it once was, but if you pay attention in certain parts of town, you can still see signs of these southern immigrants and their legendary cuisine. (See also: New Orleans Fish Market on Vernon.) Not far from a Leimert Park corner where the now-departed Stevie’s On the Strip and its famous gumbo are still lamented, Pete’s Louisiana Hot Links serves up freshly made sausages to backyard barbecuers as well as several restaurants around town. Started in 1949, Pete’s doles out its sausages from a none-too-impressive building, which from its exterior looks like a glorified shack that wouldn’t feel out of place in the Seventh Ward. But once you open the steel gate and approach the narrow ordering window, you’ll see a tidy kitchen cum abattoir.
During morning visits, you’ll be treated to glimpses of a small crew decked out in white smocks efficiently assembling the Louisiana-style sausages, but most times I’ve been over to the joint, a lone employee has roused himself from quiet labors in the back to fetch my order making me wonder what else goes down in this lonely outpost of sausage making.
Orders here are by the pound and are limited to a small but well priced selection: beef hot links, chicken sausages, pork bratwurst,
chicken jalapeno sausage, and barbecue sauce (which I’ve never thought to try). A pound of the beef hot links cost only $3.67, which seems like a steal in the land where the barbecue season stretches almost year round. The chicken and beef links are great, coarsely ground but bursting with flavor and juices when you throw them over hot coals or in a pot with some greens. However, the reason I most like Pete’s Louisiana Hot Links is that it harkens back to an earlier day, when foodways were more local. Back in 1940s and 1950s, shopping was less concentrated in supermarkets and more reliant on a greater array of food producers and sellers located nearby. Of course, it’s no secret that we eat much better these days, with dozens of choices on the shelves and quality ingredients within easy and convenient grasp, but it’s comforting to know that some folks are still keeping it fresh and delicious down the block.
L.A., CA 90016 323/735-7470 9:00-5:00, daily