Street Food: USA (2022–…): Season 1, Episode 6 - Miami, Florida - full transcript

Souse - that bold, vinegary broth boosted with meat and potatoes - saved Souseman Larry's life in a town built on fritas, pikliz and Cuban sandwiches.

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If I could go back in time
and change anything,

the one thing that I would
change would be the drugs.

I lost myself.

I lost my children.

I basically lost my life.

There was nothing but total destruction.

Waitin' on my souse,
Souseman. You heard?

We got you.
You know I know.

Cooking souse changed my life.

I started seeing things
getting better for me.

So I kept on that route.

And I never looked back.

When people think of Miami,
they think of Miami Beach,

and the sun, and the sky.

Everybody drives an exotic car,

and we all live
on 12-story condos on the beach.

But, really,
Miami is many cities in between.

I think what makes Miami really unique

from all the other cities in the world

is that it sits
at the center of this transition

between the United States
and all of Latin America.

I really don't think there's
any other place on the planet that has

the just sheer diversity of individuals
and people that Miami has to offer.

In the 1960s, communism in Cuba
causes this incredible upheaval,

and half a million Cubans land in Miami.

And they bring language,
culture, their own flavors.

They start settling in Little Havana.

One of the biggest Cuban cultural
influences on food was

la ventanita,
the little Cuban coffee window,

where originally you would just order
Cuban coffee and maybe some bites to eat.

That means a croqueta,
a pastelito de guayaba,

fritas, and Cuban sandwiches.

Miami is routinely referred to
as a Cuban town,

but we don't wanna forget
the fact that the city was incorporated

by Black Caribbeans,
Black Hispanics, and Black Americans.

So you had this intersection
of Black culture that really created

what we know now as Black Miami.

- Sweet plantain or crispy?
- Crispy.

There's a really great food scene
within the Haitian communities here.

If you're in Little Haiti,
you're gonna get the best pikliz

and the best griot of your life.

How y'all doing?

- You all right?
- Yeah, I'm good.

I'll take a chicken souse,
a pork souse...

A household favorite
in Black culture here in Miami is souse.

It's a broth that comes
with either chicken or pork.

It's potatoes. It's vegetables. It's meat.
It's just incredible spices and flavors.

And Souseman Larry is someone in Miami
that everyone knows

that makes just some
of the best souse you'll ever have.

And he cooks out of his home,
and down the street,

which is a really popular cigar bar
in the largest Black city in Miami,

which is Miami Gardens.

His souse is notorious.

It's so different
from anything you've ever had.

It's a very strong,
acidic, vinegary flavor.

You're just thinking,
"Man, this is some delicious souse!"

It's "souse," not "sauce."

- It's "souse?"
- "Souse." Yeah.

Souseman Larry
is also a pitmaster.

His grilled ribs are amazing.

He's always happy.

He's a father,
and his family is very special to him.

He's just a larger-than-life character.

That magic that he delivers
is that Miami magic.

Good morning.

- Hi.
- Hi, Mercedes.

Y'all don't have no coffee for me today?


Okay. Thank you.

If it had not been for
that moment of me changing my life...

I'd be dead by now.

- What's up, Jos??
- Morning, Larry. What's up?

All right.
Um, today, let me get a two and two.

- Yep.
- Let me get two cases of ribs.

To be one of the figures
here in Miami

that's doing something positive
that the community loves,

is something that I'm proud of.

If it had not been
for my family helping,

there was no way in the world
that we could even be where we are.

It's not just a family business.

It's just family, period.

It means the world to me.

Selling street food is important to me
because it made me who I am.

It was the street food
that gave me the name?Souseman.

At one point, nobody was
calling me Larry anymore.

And once they gave me that name,
it was like, I took that name to heart.

- See y'all later. Bye, Mercedes.
- Bye!

I took pride in it.

It made me feel a part of something
that was bigger than I was.

My mindset was, "I'm not gonna let
nobody be a better souseman than me."

For Cubans in Miami,
the epitome of our street food is

a cafecito, a croqueta, a?pastelito,

and, at most,
a Cuban sandwich at la ventanita.

The Cuban sandwich is so iconic because
it's emblematic of that?ventanita food.

It's a sandwich that they can
make quick, that they press fast.

It's warm. It's satisfying.

In Miami, it's our love-language food.

- Hi.
- There you go!


In 1966,
my grandfather came from Cuba

along with my grandmother
and my uncle and my father.

They lost everything in Cuba
because of the government.

And they came over here with nothing
other than the clothes on their backs

and a vision for the future
for their family.

They're frying up your sandwiches fresh.
I want you to have it completely fresh.

Luis Galindo makes easily

one of the best Cuban sandwiches.

It's great because they
have this wonderful counter,

and you can see them building
sandwiches all throughout the day.

It's just like a machine.

A Cuban sandwich is like
an explosion of flavors in your mouth

because you have the cheesy goodness,

but then you have the sweet ham,
the roasted pork,

and that crunchy,
buttery, soft bread on the outside.

The Cuban sandwich is made
by our luncheros.

And "luncheros" is sort of slang
for "Cuban sandwich master."

There's a special technique
to making a good Cuban sandwich.

They hardly ever touch the sandwich.
Everything is done with a knife.

And the sandwich presses
are 40 years old, probably more.

They've been seasoned for so long

that the taste
that comes out of those presses,

you just won't find it anywhere else.

It's just heaven in your mouth.

The thing that makes the Cuban sandwich
is putting it in a hot press.

So that when you take a bite,
it should be warm, it should crackle,

the cheese should pull
when you pull it away.

That's a Cuban sandwich.

It doesn't matter
whether you're Cuban or not.

We're all together here
because we came with a dream.

And Miami is a dream come true
to all of us

who were born here from Cuban
immigrants, and to many, many others.

Cuban or not, we're
one big happy family.

Devon, what's up?

- Hi.
- Divine.

Hi, Grandpa.

- What's wrong with you? What's the matter?
- I didn't go to school.

For real?

Why you ain't go to school?

I was born in Miami, Florida.

I grew up in a place
called Miami Gardens.

It was me, my sister, my little brother.

We were?very close.

- Grandpa's making chicken souse.
- I wanna help.

- You want to help?
- Mm-hmm.

Gimme a second.
Lemme finish cleaning it.

We'll do some things, okay?


But my relationship with my mom
was difficult.

My mother was a stern,
forceful type of woman...

and I was a hardheaded child.

If Mama say, "Don't touch that,"

I gotta touch it
just 'cause she said not to touch it.

A lot of times that has repercussions.

And, believe me, I felt every lick,
when I did something wrong.

You ready
to go in deep water, Irv?

- $35, $40.
- I'm all in.

I call. If you got it, you got it.

- I'mma go 100 times right now.
- Absolutely, you can't see that...

After high school,

I pretty much turned to the streets.

I had a few friends that
we all used to hang together.

Glad I ain't get in that.
I fold a two, three.

Was hoping you was in it.

We'd meet up every day,
go to the clubs and get your bottles,

and scouting for the young ladies.

It was always a party.

It didn't matter that I had kids.

I was pretty much a deadbeat dad.

Check to you.

I was selling marijuana,

and eventually graduated
to selling cocaine,

and started using.

Two dollars, gentlemen.

Cut the cards, Larry.

I was making
ten to fifteen thousand a week.

It was a great adrenaline rush.

There was nothing like
getting all that money.

And once I got a taste of street life,
I was like...

..."Oh, I like this," you know.
"This... this is all right right here."

Ah, Larry's won.

Come on, Larry.
You done won again?

Hello. How are you?

- I'm good, you?
- Good, thanks. How can I help?

- I want a regular frita.
- Mm-hmm.

- With onions and potato sticks?
- Everything.

There's so much
attention on the Cuban sandwich,

that people don't realize that
the most Miami sandwich

is the Cuban frita.

The frita is the original Cuban
street food,

and El Rey de las Fritas is the
most famous frita restaurant in Miami.

El Rey de las Fritas
has been operating for

over 50 years in Miami, Florida,
and selling Cuban fritas.

The Cuban frita is,
like, a Cuban-style burger,

but it's very different
than your actual American burgers.

The meat is a little spicier.

Not hot spicy, but in,
wake-up-your-taste-buds spicy.

And the bread is different,
and so, it's a Cuban fluffy roll.

And then, for that unique crunch
that people love,

we top it with shoestring fries.

My family came to the US,
escaping the revolution in Cuba.

Ever since I was small,

I've always seen my parents
work very hard,

and it was very important for my dad
to be known as "El Rey de las Fritas."

I remember him standing
sometimes in the crowd

when the restaurant was really full.
He would, like, get misty.

And I would tell him,
"Papi, why are you crying?"

He goes, "I'm not
crying. I just need to..."

"Look at this. It's...
This is... this is amazing."

Even though he's passed away already,
he's always been very present.

We follow his footsteps,

and our family business
is still run by us.

It includes my mom,
my brother, myself, my husband.

You were a window waitress
for a long time.


Nobody makes coffee faster than me.

I love talking with Mercy because
she immediately puts a smile on my face.

She loves the business.
She loves what her dad started there.

And she keeps it going
at a really high level.

Our frita recipe
is very secretive.

We prepare everything
when nobody's around.

- Here's your frita.
- Thanks.


El Rey de las Fritas
is very much part of my DNA,

and I'm very proud
of our family business.

I wound up just continuing
to use and sell drugs.

And I was on that cycle for a long time.

Very long time.

And then in August of '99,

my little brother lost his life.

He was murdered.

That... that tore me up.

Just to know
that he won't be there anymore.

We did a lot of things together.

He used to love fishing,
so I would take him fishing with me.

It changed me a lot.

It just drove me deeper into drugs.

I was a functioning addict.

And, one day, I wound
up getting so high,

I was overdosing.

And then, all of a sudden,

I just started feeling tingling
on my fingers,

through my arms, and I ran to the sink,
and I splashed water on my face,

and I was like, "I'm tripping."

And then I started feeling
my spirit leaving my body.

I was afraid that I was?finna die.

And all I can say was,
"Lord, not now. Not like this."

I began to cry,

and I began to pray.

"If you deliver me from these drugs,

whatever you would
have me to do, I'll do."

And, from that point,
my life started changing.


Um, we've got no more salad, souple.

It would almost be impossible
to not mention

the Haitian culture or?cuisine
when talking about Miami,

because Miami houses
the largest Haitian diaspora.

Haitians fleeing persecution
from a dictator

is very similar to the?Cuban story.

Naomi's Garden
was founded by my parents

and named after my grandmother, Naomi.

We are the longest-standing
Haitian restaurant in the city.

Some of the most popular dishes
that we have here are?legim,

legim is a mash of vegetables,

fried snapper, and our turkey tassot.

Pikliz is what makes
every Haitian meal complete.

It's cabbage, carrots,
habanero peppers, lightly pickled.

It's so fresh and spicy and delicious.

Every meal has to come with pikliz.

Next, please!

- Baked chicken with mayi kol?.
- Okay.

It'd be hard to imagine Naomi's
without Melisanne,

'cause she's been here
since the very beginning.

She's the heart and
soul of the business.

I've worked here for 38 years.

Our customers at our restaurant

appreciate me and our food.

They come back every day.

I need,
uh, chicken and rice.

My dad modeled our serving window
after the Cuban ventanitas.

So we've got this, like,
funny combo of Cuban ventanita

in a Haitian neighborhood
with Haitian employees

started by an Israeli family
originally from Yemen.

Our customers love my food.

Love and respect
between people is what makes community.

Real community.

And that's how we've been able to take
this cross-cultural, cross-language,

and just bring everyone together.

It's incredible.

When I was going
through this transformation,

I had an epiphany.

And that soft, still
voice was leading me

throughout my difficult time
of trying to stay sober.

I started trying to eliminate everything
that was drawing me to use drugs.

I had to find a substitute.

Whenever I start feeling bad,

I would just go in the kitchen and cook.

I would let everything that I was
feeling, everything I was thinking,

every bad thing was
going on at the time,

once I walk in that kitchen,
I just let all of that go.

It also gave me a place
that I can just be me.

It was just therapy.

The first time I made the souse,

I got the recipe from the spirit.

At first, it was scary.

It had me kind of worried,
like, "Am I losing my mind?"

I knew the basis of making the souse,

but that voice that talked to me,

gave me specific things
to do with the souse.

And, as I apply what I was told,
the whole flavor of the souse changed.

This don't taste like the average souse.

And I would never tell anybody
because I felt people look at me, like,

"Man, you doing some voodoo
or something, man."

That was like my little secret.

At the time,
my job was a security officer.

I made a pot, took it to work,

and, when it got to the table,
everybody just started eating it.

It was like, "You made that?"

I said, "Yeah."

Said, "Man, you ought to sell that."

I said, "Man, y'all crazy."

"We get a paycheck every two weeks,
we got some benefits,

I'm not trying to be
on no corner selling no souse."

But I was curious.

So I went home, made a pot
and just took it on the street.

And, that weekend, I sold the whole pot.

From that day,
every week it was an increase.

I had left my job, and I went
from making one pot to two pots,

from two pots to four pots.

And people would literally
stand in line and wait.

Every week, it was
more and more and more.

People started asking for other things.

"Y'all got ribs? What all y'all have?"

So we got ribs, we got chicken,
we got seafood rice,

pork souse,
chicken souse, and conch salad.

At this point, the neighborhood
is starting to call me the Souseman.

I felt great.

It made me feel like everything
that I had gone through was worth it.

All right, we open,
y'all. Y'all, come on.

Next, please. How you doing?

Um, can I have some rice?

Miami street food is
a reminder of home for me.

The grilled ribs from Souseman Larry
that's filling the street up with smoke.

Miami Street food is comfort.
It's family. It's friends.

Because we make you feel loved.

Street food is how we remember
our immigrant food.

We've all dedicated our lives
to our family business.

It's an amazing feeling
and accomplishment.

These different cultural influences
from other countries

continue to make and remake the city.

I find Miami to be incredible
when it comes to mixing cultures,

but what's beautiful about this city

is that these cultures
actually come together.

What makes Miami
such an exciting city

is that it's always changing.

And you never know
what it's gonna be next.

Once we get set up
and I pull the grill,

I'll go ahead and pull the speaker out.


Play some music.

You know I'd get up and do
a two-step in a heartbeat.

- It's no pressure. You know that.
- Mm-hmm.

So when you get to be my age...

Yeah. In like 30, 40 more years.

...and you can't move like I move.

So don't play with me.

You two-step, and the next morning,

your feet gonna be swollen,
the hip gonna be hurting.

Child, please!

When I got myself together,

I went to my kids,
each and every one of them,

and I apologized
for not being in their life.

For not being the
father that they needed.

What they see now before them
is their father.

It's not the guy that was on
drugs and runnin' the street.

And then they let me know

that they wanted to be
a part of my life as well.

You might be family.
You still gotta pay, though.

I got you.

When I reconciled with my children...

that was the best thing.

The greatest thing
I've ever done in my life.

May God bless
the owner of this business.

- Thank you.
- May God bless you tremendously.

- Thank you.
- All right?

And I vowed to them at that point
that I will never turn back on them.


Because I love 'em. They love me.

Uh, tonight we have barbecue ribs,

barbecue chicken, chicken souse,

pork souse, seafood rice, um, and...

All the things I've been through,

it makes me feel proud to know that
I had enough strength to wanna change.

I tell you, y'all always show up
for y'all Grandpa, you know that?

Whatever cards that you're dealt,

whatever mistakes that you've made,
whatever downfalls you've had,

don't be discouraged.

Been waiting
a long time for this.

'Cause at the end of all of that,

there's a bright, shiny rainbow
waiting on you to just grab.

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