Street Food: USA (2022–…): Season 1, Episode 4 - New Orleans, Louisiana - full transcript

Amid a party city's mix of po'bovs, snoballs and crawfish, Ms. Linda Green's beloved yakamein bubbles with inspiration, even in the face of tragedy.

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New Orleans is music.

It's food.

It is love.

My people dance in the streets,
and they have a good time.

We celebrate life.

And I love that.

I celebrate by feeding people.

I feed a lot of people.

When they sayin',
"Don't give me that much,"

it's like, I'm still
putting stuff on it.



I do. I give 'em a little extra.

- That's right.
- It is right.

I don't just cook,
I love to cook.

Yeah, I put that love in mine.

My mom used to tell me all the time,
"Yeah, you can cook for looks if you want,

but you better cook for taste."

When people talk
about New Orleans,

the common theme is Mardi Gras...

...and the mighty winds of a hurricane.

But the uniqueness of this city
and its culture and its people

tells you a story
that is built on immigration.

New Orleans is positioned
adjacent to the Mississippi River,

and it was once
the busiest port in the world.

We are an American city,



but we are a merger of European,
of African, of Asian,

and the Indigenous cultures,
all in one place.

The beautiful history of this area is that
those that move here keep their culture,

they keep their traditions.

And you see it in the art,
the music, the food.

And, in all of these, you see
the mixed ethnicities well represented.

The heartbeat of New Orleans
happens out on the streets.

It's Mardi Gras. It's our big festivals.

And Jazz Fest is
the great-granddaddy of them all.

But it's the everyday stuff.

It's the Second Lines that turn
neighborhoods into block parties,

one block at a time.

You have the brass band up front,
the banners, the dancers, the costumes,

and then you have the Second Line.

That's the rest of us.

It's anyone who's not
part of the club right up front,

who follows along behind it.

That key thing about New Orleans is people
celebrating together in the public realm.

At the center of that,
there's always food.

The street food of New Orleans
really gets to the soul of the city.

These dishes that are humble.

They're comfort food.

Like beignets,

muffuletta,

chargrilled oysters,

snoballs.

The po'boy you get
off the sandwich counter.

The load of boiled crawfish
you pick up at the street.

That bowl of gumbo from the corner joint

that you take with you
and eat with a spoon.

- Mm-hmm.
- And yakamein.

Everyone's heard of gumbo. But yakamein?

That's more of
an inside New Orleans thing.

What you get is broth,

salty, brassy, bright, with noodles.

And then you're gonna have beef,
green onions, and a boiled egg on top.

Its nickname is Old Sober.

People would pick up some yakamein
on the way back from a celebration

and try to sober up
before they hit the pillow.

Hey, Vance!

- How you doing, babe?
- All right.

When you
try Miss Linda's yakamein,

what you're getting
is this old school version

that's been distilled through
the generations, through her kitchen,

poured into that Styrofoam cup
for you to slurp down on the street.

What she brings is truly the entire
New Orleans street-food experience.

When you eat with Ms. Linda,
you're getting a hug from your auntie.

Thank you, I love you.

She's known as the yakamein lady
wherever she goes.

This is street food with heart.
This is street food with love.

This is Ms. Linda's street food.

It is very important that I stay on my
path because I'm the head of my family.

And if the head dies, everything dies.

I'm African American.

We have so much history
and traditions in our recipes.

It dates back to slavery.

Our ancestors, they knew how to survive.

They were very talented.

So when there was leftovers,

they took something out of nothing
and made something out of it.

Like gumbo,

mac 'n cheese,

greens,

and a yakamein.

We've been doing all of those
for a long, long time.

In New Orleans,
you had your Chinese and your slaves.

Some of them married,
and they were in the kitchen together.

That's where that yakamein comes from.

It is a Chinese dish,
but the African American people,

when they had leftover chicken,
beef, pork chop, noodles,

they put their own spices
and herbs into it.

And I'm proud of that.

It's like a boom. It got a zest in it.

I ain't playin' with them.

Oh yeah, it's good.

I got my recipe from my mother.

A lot of people,
their parents knew how to cook yakamein.

But it was a poor man's dish,

so they let their parents
and grandparents die with it.

It's important for me
to keep this recipe alive

because my recipe is my legacy.

My mom and them, they left something
for their family and I wanna do that.

People from different waves
of immigration become New Orleanians,

folding in their own influences
to create something unique

that everyone in New Orleans
can call their own.

The po'boy is a
reflection of New Orleans.

It's this delicious fusion sandwich,
built on something we call French bread,

brought here by German bakers,
that was served at Italian groceries.

It has this crackling, crisp crust

and then this fluffy interior that
can absorb all the delicious seafood

or gravy from the roast beef
that you slap in there.

My dad taught me
how to make po'boys as a kid.

When I was high enough to reach...

...the counter
to cut the French bread.

We make po'boys of all kinds.

You have to put
the mayonnaise on one side,

lettuce and tomatoes,
the other side, and then pickles.

And some kind of meat,
like roast beef, hot sausage, meatballs,

oysters, shrimp, and catfish.

We make the meatballs in-house.

It's my grandmother's recipe.
There's nothing pre-made.

And we have some
of the best shrimp in the Gulf.

But the roast beef is
what people come for

because they want that warm roast beef
on a French bread roll.

It started during the 1920s,
the New Orleans streetcar strike.

A lot of people didn't have any money,
and people would feel sorry for them.

They would d say,
"Here comes another poor boy."

Hey, y'all. Come on in.
What can we get you today?

They would pelt the strikers
with sandwiches,

and they eventually named the sandwich
the poor boy because of that.

My father started the business
in 1972 as a corner grocery store.

He retired, but he's still
running it from the sidelines.

My twin sister and I are running
the business together now.

We have a lot of customers,
since the '70s or the '80s,

still coming here.

It's like a community gathering place
in the neighborhood.

You don't know how good it makes me feel
when people come and eat at Frady's.

Food is a celebration,
and I'm part of that.

It makes me feel wonderful.

I grew up in New Orleans.

My family lived here for generations.

Family wasn't just parents,
grandparents, mothers, uncles, aunties.

It's the whole community,
it always has been.

Back then, people like my grandmother,

they used to love to cook,
and they loved to feed people.

My favorite memories of my grandma,

she would be in her little wheelchair,
cooking by the stove.

She had me chopping
with that big old knife.

She had me chopping everything.
I chopped everything. Oh my God.

My Grandma Georgia,
she loved to cook yakamein.

And then, when it was ready,
the aroma was so high,

people from all over the block
would come with they bowls.

And everybody sat outside,
and they'd be porch bopping.

That's what they'd do.

You know, everybody sitting out
shooting the breeze.

That is the African American community.

It's like a big family.

If something happened,

everybody gonna be there.

Everybody gonna be
sitting on the porch with ya.

In our community,
it was always salt, pepper, and love.

New Orleans is a hot place.

Natural condition of New Orleans
is hot, steamy, humid.

So, snoballs are
one of the joys of New Orleans,

one of those simple pleasures
and traditions

that people have poured themselves into.

Hey, you guys.

- Would you guys like?snoballs?
- Yes.

We make snoballs
just like my grandmother did

with Louisiana cane sugar
and bottled spring water.

And we make old-fashioned flavors
like wild cherry and classic strawberry.

But we also make flavors
that are all-natural like satsuma,

which are small, tart oranges
that grow in south Louisiana.

We've been women-owned for 82 years,
and I grew up here.

I learned how to make?snoballs
from my grandmother.

There are no recipes.

She would just show you how to do
something, and that's what you did.

It all began
when my uncle wanted a snoball.

All that we had in New Orleans
were these pushcarts.

The man would come around
in the different neighborhoods

and shave the block of ice
with a kitchen door planer.

My grandfather looked
at his son and thought,

"I can build something better."

He was a machinist by trade,

and, in 1934, my grandfather invented
the first electric ice-shaving machine,

the same machine we use today,

and that's how our snoballs are
cotton-candy-sitting-on-a-cloud fluffy.

But it was really my grandmother who
said, "This is too good to leave at home."

She was the one
that pulled it onto her front porch

and made syrups fresh daily.

We have the heat,
the mosquitoes, the rain,

but snoballs make everything better.

It takes all your worries away,
and it's a sweet backdrop for life.

I had children at a young age,
two girls and a boy.

Katrina Green and Nikitia Green,
and Mansfield Patterson III, my son.

They called him my hip baby
because I was always with him.

I loved being a mother,
and I had to work to feed my family.

So I got a job
as the school cafeteria lady.

But, when Katrina hit New Orleans,
the city was devastated.

The schools never reopened.

I didn't know what I was gonna do.

And then I had this idea.

Maybe I can go on the Second Line routes
and, you know, sell yakamein.

Woo!

New Orleans is a party city.

Every Sunday we have a Second Line,
and, oh lord, do they drink!

When you doing a lot of drinking,
a lot of salt comin' out your body

and you gotta get that stuff
back into you.

And a lot of people say
that my yakamein sobers them up.

I taught my son how to cook
to help me out a little bit.

So Mansfield and I would load
the truck up.

And we'd be up there
selling yakamein at the Second Line,

going from stop to stop.

A lot of people started liking it.

People would say,
"This tastes like my grandma."

"This tastes like my mama."

People remember that old-school flavor.

And, if they don't see me
at that third or fourth stop,

they'd say, "Y'all seen
that yakamein lady? Where she at?"

"Yakamein lady! Yakamein lady!
Yakamein lady!"

That's all they kept calling me.

So that's how I became
Ms. Linda the yakamein lady.

Every time we went
out there, we sold out.

And that's when I started
selling the?yakamein full-time.

It was so, so good. Lord, have mercy.

New Orleans' location
is the port that controls

the Mississippi River.

The city is surrounded by water,

and that has yielded
this rich harvest of seafood.

We're talkin' about shrimp.
We're talkin' about oysters.

But one of the great food experiences
of New Orleans is the crawfish boil.

Whether it's poured out
on a table in someone's backyard

or just dumped into a bag and handed
to you on the street to eat on the spot.

Me and my people are Cajun.

That's what I identify as.

If you're ever in the swamps
and see someone

jumping off a boat onto an alligator,
he's probably a Cajun.

Another name for crawfish
would be mudbugs,

and it's 'cause you
pull them out the mud.

So the biggest part of crawfish for me
is how you prep them and clean them.

I wash them until the water is
clear enough that I would drink it.

My dad taught me how to boil,

and what I do now
is an adaptation of his recipe.

Put 'em in the pot.
Season it with onion, garlic.

I add corn, sausage,
potatoes, and sweet potatoes,

'cause, uh, they hold
a special place in my heart.

My dad does a lot of work
with sweet potato farmers in the state,

and sweet potatoes
put me through college.

Um, crawfish will be ready...

less than 20 minutes.

And then when I'm almost ready
to serve them,

I add ice to make them
sink to the bottom of the pot,

and start absorbing all that seasoning.
That's where you get all your flavor from.

It was traditionally a poor man's food,

and it became something
that is now a delicacy.

First tray.

But eating crawfish,
it's not a pretty process.

You will get your hands dirty.

Take your dominant hand,
pinch the tail and twist.

That's where your meat is.

And then you suck all the juice
out the head.

I was working in music and production,

but my family comes from
the Cajun motherland in south Louisiana,

and I loved the idea of,

you know, bringing what I thought
was Cajun crawfish here to New Orleans.

Typically, I'll sell out of 200 pounds
to 300 pounds every day.

If I don't sell out,
I bring it under the overpass

and feed the homeless living there.

There's a large sense of community
in New Orleans

and crawfish boils are just a good
way to bring those people together.

It's become something that,

even if I wanted to,
I don't think I could stop.

Thank you, baby.

Wait a minute. Just stir it.

My yakamein got so popular
that I was asked,

would I like to come
and sell at Jazz Fest.

It was a big deal
for anybody to get in Jazz Fest.

It's one of the biggest festivals
in the world.

That made me realize that
my family recipe might be something big.

See, what you're
gonna have to do is this.

- This is you.
- Okay.

Yeah. What you mean "okay"?

That's you.

When I was asked,
"You think you can handle that?"

I was nervous
because it's such a huge festival.

When I got home, I talked to my kids.
"Y'all think I could do that?"

And they all, "Yeah, you could do it.
You could do it"

I said, "I don't know
if I could do that."

And my son Mansfield said,
"Ma, you could do that."

"Man, you've been doing
all kinds of stuff, Mama."

I was so grateful he said that.

It was, um...

It was scary.

But I was getting
a chance to build who I was.

- Hi!
- Hey, ladies. How y'all doing?

I said, "I can handle anything
with my son there to help me."

I thought, "He probably gonna be the
one to take this recipe to the world."

I was getting ready for Jazz Fest
when I got a phone call from Mansfield.

He was living with his girlfriend
at the time,

and he said,
"Ma, you gonna bring that to me."

Now, he was talking about the yakamein
juice to sell in front of their house.

You know, help me out a little bit.

I said, "Yeah, I got that for you.
Don't worry about it."

He said, "Ma, I love you."
I say, "I love you too."

So, when he called me,
say the next ten minutes,

the girl called me and told me.
She said, "Mansfield's dead."

I said, "What?"

"What you mean he's dead?
I just got off the phone with him."

She said, "No. Mansfield's dead."

He went in the bathroom and, um...

I guess he went and shot the drugs,
and that was it.

I put him in so many rehabs.

I tried, I really tried
to get help for him.

He had his bad days,

but he was always there
to help me when I needed him.

When a mother loses a child,
that's an empty space in you.

Mansfield...

Mansfield was my baby.

That was mine. You know...

That was hard.

To just, to leave him there
because I'm always there for him.

Always.

After the funeral for my son,
the band was outside waiting.

I did a Second Line for him.

Oh, they had a good time
after that funeral.

You know, we all was in the street,
celebrating his life.

And, that night, my son came to me.

It was like a bright light.

He didn't say nothing.

He just was smiling.

But when I woke up,
tears ran down my eyes.

Mansfield was very proud of me.

He always told me,

"Ma, do you. Don't
stop, Ma. Don't stop."

That day, everybody was there
sitting on the porch with me.

It meant a lot
'cause everybody loved Mansfield.

They helped me realize
he's in a better place.

And I wasn't worried no more.

And I said, "I can go ahead on
and do what I got to do."

I have to keep going

for all my daughters, my
grandchildren, and my whole community.

And that's what I did.

I went to Jazz Fest.

At my booth,
they had crowds way to the back.

Thank you so much!

With the yakamein,
a lot of people tell me

they could smell the aroma.

But they smelling my grandmother
and my mother's seasoning.

It makes everything taste good.

I made gumbo,
crawfish macaroni and cheese,

red beans and rice,
all kinda stuff with my seasoning.

I started winning awards,
and I won Gumbo Fest.

I won Po'boy Fest.

I won the Bloody Mary Fest

with a bloody Mary
that I made with Ms. Linda's seasoning.

Thank you, honey, I appreciate it.
I really, really appreciate it.

Even Anthony Bourdain came
to my blue pickup truck

and told me, when you taste
the yakamein, it hit the palette,

it goes to the brain,

and it comes right back to the palette
and say, "I want more."

Every time I make my yakamein,
I celebrate Mansfield,

I celebrate my mama,

and I celebrate my community.

In New Orleans,
there's a celebration for everything.

We don't want to endure life.

We want to enjoy it.

I love New Orleans and life, baby!

In New Orleans, every meal is really a
chance to celebrate New Orleans culture.

We love our food here in New Orleans.

We take it very seriously.
It's almost religion.

The people here congregate
around the?crawfish.

Everyone feels like
this is their home,

and New Orleans really represents that
for all people.

Whether it's religion
or love or ethnicity.

Everyone feels loved here.

Every time a snoball walks out the door,
we are so proud to serve our community.

Our customers
are from priests to pimps.

All those people in between

have come through these doors
and eaten our po'boys.

People bring their grandkids here and say,
you know, "I was here as a little boy,"

and, "I was here as a little girl."

They wanna keep that
up and keep it going.

The bedrock
of New Orleans cuisine

is really home cooking.

These great New Orleans dishes,
they flow through families.

They go from generation to generation.

Ms. Linda brings these New
Orleans home traditions to the people.

I love feeding people.

I feed the block.

This my city.

And my city has been good to me.

We got the good, bad, and the ugly.

But guess what? All
of them come together.

It is important for me
to keep this recipe alive

because it?is a traditional dish
in the city of New Orleans.

I'm old-school. That's me.

I am New Orleans.

Now it's just me and my two daughters,

nine grandchildren,
and three great-grandchildren.

What about the?yakamein?

I eat some... I just eat some yakamein.

I'm just hoping that they realize
this is their legacy too.

They can go anywhere they want
and open up a yakamein stand

and tell 'em they're from New Orleans.

Look at your son.

That's a fool, that.

It's my dream for everybody all over the
world to have a taste of my?yakamein.

Yes.

To understand Hawaiian culture,
check out our street food.

Poke places, spam?musubi,
kalua pig, shave ice, plate lunches.

Appreciate it.
Thank you, man.

It's a great physical representation
of the Aloha Spirit.

Someone needs to stop Clearway Law.
Public shouldn't leave reviews for lawyers.