Local Color: Cypress Park, L.A.



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One of the many things I missed about Los Angeles during my decade in San Francisco was the occasional big bag of fruit seasoned with salt, chili powder and lime or lemon juice.

On occasion I’d buy a small jicama and mango at the Safeway, hold my nose and buy a lemon or two for .99 and use Tapatio sauce for the hot kick that brings it all together. Of course, it always was a disappointing experience.

Since moving back, I’ve made a point to visit Anna [1] every time we go to my parent’s house. And, I’ll admit, there have been a few times I’ve made the trek to see my family just to have an excuse to buy frutas. Depending on the weather, Anna will sell $3, $4 or $5 bags and she’ll customize it to my preference (mango, jicama, oranges, cucumber). I’ll usually go for the $3 or $4 bag since there is only so much fruit a person can eat. On hot days, she only sells $4 and $5 bags, she may be nice but she’s nobody’s fool.

It’s important to look for fresh fruit [2] and a clean cart [3], but since she’s stationed on the sidewalk by a gas station, I can’t be too picky about the much else. Besides the freshness of the fruit, I place utmost importance on the chili used to balance out the tartness of the lime and the saltiness of the, uh, salt. For me that means Pico de Gallo [4] chili powder—accept no substitutes. This stuff makes all the difference. And don’t get greedy. I once asked her for an extra shake and my nose ran, my eyes watered and I was forced to take a swig of milk, but I ate every last piece of fruit and learned my lesson. After who knows how long doing this, Anna knows her stuff and I’ll never question her seasoning in the future.

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