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Garden District Book Shop, 6PM
From her new book "Drink Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Best Cocktail Bars, Dives, & Speakeasies"
Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, 7PM
Book publishing workshop
Dillrd University, 7PM
Olympic gymnast talks fame and fitness
The Carver, 7PM
World soul jazz music
Loyola University, 7PM
Clowns for a cause, to benefit Syrian refugees
St. Roch Tavern, 8PM
Tonight: beer, haircuts, karaoke
Bayou Beer Garden, 8PM
Blue Nile, 9PM
Interstellar future funk
Snug Harbor, 10PM
Galactic drummer’s side project - also at 8PM
Botanical Garden, 10AM
Art exhibit and sale en plein air
Alex Beard Studio, 5PM
Drinks, food, painting to celebrate the artist's studio opening
Maison Dupuy Hotel, 5PM
Fancy foods, music by jazz great Tim Laughlin, and event raffle
Benachi House & Gardens, 6PM
Southern Rep's fundraising dinner and party
New Canal Lighthouse, 6PM
Coastal scientist discusses his work
Smoothie King Center, 7PM
The Birds and the Mavs go head to head
Allways Lounge, 7PM
Last game planned in the Allways's popular performance & game night
2314 Iberville St., 7:30PM
Cocktails for a cause
Saenger Theatre, 8PM
The Beach Boy presents "Pet Sounds"
Catahoula Hotel, 8PM
Free drinks if you can do his dance. Vote for Pedro!
BJs in the Bywater, 8PM
Poetry with Clare Welsh and Todd Cirillo
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA's Horror Films Fest screens shorts
Howlin Wolf, 10PM
Bronx hip hop comes south
Bywater Art Lofts, 6PM
Live art in the air
Ogden Museum, 6PM
Feat. Mia Borders
New Orleans Jazz Museum, 6PM
Exhibit opening on the late Pete Fountain
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture, 6PM
Unveiling of Big Freedia's 2018 Krew du Viewux costume
Langston Hughes Academy, 7PM
8th annual dinner party in the Dreamkeeper Garden
The Republlic, 7PM
Immersive pop-up gallery, boutique, and stage show
Euphorbia Kava Bar, 7PM
DIY rock, pop, punk show
Saenger Theatre, 7:30PM
Joy Theater, 8PM
The Carver, 9PM
NOLA brass all-stars
Gasa Gasa, 9PM
Feat. Burn Like Fire and I'm Fine in support
Allways Lounge, 10:30PM
Feat. Creep Cuts and Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers
One Eyed Jacks, 10:30PM
80s dance party
Bowl of Mystery
Sifting Through the Clouded History of Ya Ka Mein
Staring down into a pot full of brown liquid, the smell of soy sauce fills the air. Spaghetti noodles, beef, and green onions absorbing the broth. While beginning to spoon out the soup, a hard-boiled egg bobs like a buoy in the muddy waters of the Mississippi.
At the risk of losing a true experience, this writer passed on the egg. But then the mixture of the soup hit the tongue with a surprising gratification.
The contents of the bowl in question is ya-ka-mein. A New Orleans dish that has been around for decades, many remain unsure of where it came from, or how it started.
For most locals the pronunciation is ya-ka-meat, though the "t" is rarely heard. So it comes out sounding like ya-ka-mee. Non-natives tend to pronounce it as ya-ka-mein, which gives the locals a laugh.
A much easier nom de guerre for the dish is Old Sober. This name refers to the claims that this is the best hangover cure usually prepared at the end of Carnival season to usher in Lent.
Like the broth, the origin of the dish is murky. But it boils down to two different scenarios.
In the first, African American vets from the Korean War brought back the dish after having a taste of the food in the Pacific and recreated it with local ingredients.
In the other, Chinese workers came to New Orleans to help build the railroads, and the construction crew cooks had to satisfy both the African and Chinese workers.
Most people seem to agree with the former statement of the origins, but it may never be validated.
Still, the latter statement seems to hold some weight as well simply because of where most ya-ka-mein can be found in the city.
Lacking seafood and traditional Creole flair, some might question the validity of ya-ka-mein as a New Orleans dish. But, like most New Orleans dishes, it is a mixture of different cultures blended to make something new.
New Orleans band Galactic understands this well. They named their eighth studio album Ya Ka May because it blends two very different genres, R&B/soul and sissy bounce. Ya-ka-mein is a blend of Chinese and African-American cultures.
Chinese restaurants around New Orleans serve ya-ka-mein with a slightly different spelling of the dish, however the most common place remains neighborhood corner stores.
The standard barer is Manchu on N. Broad, which has been deemed the best place to get a good bowl of ya-ka-mein. Besides the corner store, the next best place to get ya-ka-mein is from street vendors. Street ya-ka-mein usually has a homecooked feel and taste.
"I tried ya-ka-mein from other places and it was never to my liking so I added some secret spices to make it my own that I only know about," said Donna Bentley, of ya-ka-mein purveyor Bentley's Meals on Wheels. "My husband doesn't even know what I put in there. "
Most people come to Bentley's Meals on Wheels specifically for Mrs. Bentley's ya-ka-mein but it is only served on Tuesday nights and Sundays.
Bentley said the cast and crew of a certain HBO series has taken a liking to Mrs. Bentley's ya-ka-mein. " They usually wipe me out," Mrs. Bentley said of the Treme crew.
The Bentley's Meals on Wheels is usually located in front of Bullet's Sports Bar and Lounge on A.P. Tureaud Ave.
Ya-ka-mein is actually more associated with street food than anything else. Usually found at second lines, it received a more mainstream introduction when served at the first Jazz Fest held in Congo Square in the 70s. After the second year it was no longer offered. But, in 2005, the Ya-ka-mein Lady Linda Green brought it back to the Fest.
Though its inclusion at Jazz Fest makes it more accessible, the dish is still is on the verge of distinction.
Many corner stores have not come back after the storm, and probably will not for many reasons. There has been an increase in street vendors who specialize in ya-ka-mein, but they are sometimes hard to find.
With that being the case, ya-ka-mein is returning to the days where recipes and preparation methods are passed down orally. It can be found in some cookbooks and on websites but, mainly, this is a dish that is verbally passed down through the generations.
Like many other New Orleans dishes, the recipe for ya-ka-mein differs depending on the cook. But it is not considered true ya-ka-mein to most if it does not include the hard-boiled egg. The egg is usually cut in half and placed on top or in the middle.
Most ya-ka-mein is served with the ingredients mixed together, but when it is home cooked people tend to let others make it to their liking. The noodles and broth are served in a bowl while the me at, seasoning, egg, and vegetables are added to taste.
Slowly on the verge of dying out, the disappearance of ya-ka-mein would represent yet another major loss for New Orleans if it disappeared. The history of ya-ka-mein may be a mystery, but this dish should not be.
Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Andrew Smith
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz