It all started with alligator tacos. Not eating alligator tacos (this photo isn’t mine, sadly) though I’d love to try this Louisiana delight. No, this week I’ve been so busy I’ve barely had time to eat anything.
But I did manage to go for a run, during which I listened to a great podcast item about Mexican food across the US, including the Louisiana take on it, and also happened to go past my local Mexican restaurant at the same time.
Doing so made me think about Latin American culture in London. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’m always on the lookout for anything New Orleans-related in my home city, and Latin America is a part of the New Orleans cultural gumbo.
The city has long historical links to Haiti and Cuba, and New Orleans has often been dubbed “the northernmost Caribbean city”. Much of the architecture of the “French” quarter is Spanish colonial in style, its distinctive features dating from Spain’s forty year rule of the city in the late eighteenth century. And in recent years, the city’s Latino population has grown rapidly, partly due to an influx of construction workers since Katrina.
The UK meanwhile has strong ties to the formerly British Caribbean nations, which have given London a rich Caribbean culture. However, Latin American influences in London are less evident. Until just a few years ago, for instance, it was pretty much impossible to get the kind of authentic and good quality Mexican food here that’s easy to find in many parts of the US.
Things are changing. I was recently fortunate enough to come across online magazine Jungle Drums that’s doing an amazing job of charting the presence of all kinds of Latin American culture in London, particularly Brazilian culture.
And on food again, I used to love going to Sabor, once a north London restaurant near where I live that, unusually for an eaterie here, served amazing food from all across Latin America.
Very sadly, Sabor closed in 2012, but is now up and running again in the form of a pop-up venture. I’m planning to sign up for their latest event and – who knows – maybe, just maybe, there’ll be alligator tacos on the menu…
Image: Alyson Hurt https://www.flickr.com/photos/alykat/