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Monday, October 16, 2006

MacArthur's Park Is Melting…













"MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again"

Richard Harris first sang those often-misunderstood words in the 1960s and Donna Summer lit up the dance floors with her disco version in 1978.

When I first moved to Los Angeles I was curious to see this magical place immortalized in song… and what a dump it was! Just driving by the park made me yearn for a shower and disinfectant. There was no way in hell I'd get out of the car and walk through the place. I was certain I'd never get out alive. The MacArthur Park of song was nothing like the actual MacArthur Park.

But surprisingly over the past few years something wonderful has happened. MacArthur Park is no longer the drug and rat infested eyesore with lake water that could burn holes in your skin. Now it's a beautiful urban oasis with green grass, lake, lights, and a wonderful sense of community.

So what brought me back to MacArthur Park?

Tamales.

I love tamales and will travel far and wide for the best tamales possible. A Latino friend of mine took it upon himself to introduce me to the best kept secret in Los Angeles: MAMA'S HOT TAMALES CAFÉ located at 2124 West Seventh Street overlooking MacArthur Park.

What makes Mama's so unique is that it's a non-profit apprentice operated business-training restaurant for street vendors. The apprentices prepare, cook, and serve tamales from various Latin American countries.

This past week I feasted on two tamales: the Acapulco pork tamale and the Valley of Oaxaca chicken tamale made with black mole.

Next week I'm going back and will try the Michoacan beef tamale made with pasilla chile sauce and the Honduras chicken tamale made with potatoes, olives, raisins and rice.

Besides tamales Mama's also offers salads, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and tostadas.

But for me it's all about the tamale. Mmm, mmm, good!

Be sure to check out more on Mama's and the "Rediscover MacArthur Park" project at www.iurd.org/mamasHotTamales.

© 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

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