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Lagniappe

 
THE

Defender Picks

 

DIMANCHE

April 30th

Jazz Fest

Fair Grounds, all day

Final day of weekend one

 

Breakfest

Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM

The most important meal of the year

 

Movie Screening: The Invisible Man

Prytania Theatre, 10AM

1933 sci-fi horror classic

 

Dan TDM

Saenger Theatre, 3PM

YouTube superstar comes to town

 

Sunday Musical Meditation

Marigny Opera House, 5PM

Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler

 

One Tease to Rule Them All

Eiffel Society, 7PM

Lord of the Rings burlesque

 

Joe Krown Trio

Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM

Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil

 

Blato Zlato

Bar Redux, 9PM

NOLA-based Balkan band

 

What is a Motico? 

Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM

Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films

LUNDI

May 1st

May Day Strike and March

Louis Armstrong Park, 1PM

A protest for freedom, jobs, justice, and sanctuary for all

 

Movie Screening: Soundtracks: Songs That Defined History

Peoples Health Jazz Market, 6:30PM

CNN presents event, with post-screening conversation with anchor Brooke Baldwin

 

WWOZ Piano Night

House of Blues, 7PM
Back to the roots

 

Ooh Poo Pah Doo Monday Blues

Carver Club, 8PM

Treme club shifts its weekly show to the historic Carver Theatre

 

Poetry on Poets

Cafe Istanbul, 9:15PM

Evening of poetry with Chuck Perkins, plus live music

 

Brass-A-Holics

Blue Nile, 11PM

Famed brass all-stars play Frenchmen 

 

 

MARDI

May 2nd

Collison

Ernest N. Morial Cenvention Center 

Kick off day of tech conference

 

United Bakery Records Revue

Marigny Recording Studio, 3PM

First annual showcase of the label's artists

 

GiveNOLA Fest

Greater New Orleans Foundation, 4:30PM

Music from Irma Thomas, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Rebirth Brass Band

 

Tasting Tuesdays

343 Baronne St., 6:30PM

Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir

 

Gojira

House of Blues, 7PM

Grammy-nominated French heavy metal 

 

Little Freddie King

Little Gem Saloon, 7:30PM

Stick around for Honey Island Swamp Band at 11PM

 

Neil Diamond

Smoothie King Center, 8PM

50th anniversary tour

 

The Mike Dillon Band

Siberia, 9PM

Feat. Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers

MERCREDI

May 3rd

Book Reading: Michael Fry

Octavia Books, 4:30PM

From "How to Be A Supervillain" 

 

Flower Crown Workshop

Freda, 6PM

Hosted by Pistil & Stamen Flower Farm and Studio

 

Pete Fountain Tribute

Music at the Mint, 7PM

Feat. Tim Laughlin

 

Erica Falls

The Sanctuary, 8PM

CD release show

 

Piano Summit

Snug Harbor, 8PM

Feat. Marcia Ball, Joe Krown, and Tom McDermott

 

The New Pornographers

Tipitina's, 8PM

In support of newest album 'Whiteout Conditions'

 

Pixies

Saenger Theatre, 8:30PM

Alt-rock icons

 

Piano Sessions Vol. 7

Blue Nile, 9PM

Feat. Ivan Neville

 

Twin Peaks

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Feat. Chrome Pony and Post Animal in support

 

New Breed Brass Band

Blue Nile, 11:55PM

Next generation NOLA brass

 

Tribute to Lee Dorsey

Pres Hall, 12AM

With Jon Cleary, Benny Bloom, & Friends

JEUDI

May 4th

Jazz Fest

Fair Grounds, all day

Weekend two kicks off

 

May the 4th Be With You

Tubby & Coo's, 4PM

Star Wars party

 

Jazz in the Park
Armstrong Park, 4PM

Russell Batiste and friends

 

Yoga Social Club

Crescent Park, 5:45PM

Get sweaty and centered 

 

Cuba to Congo Square Throwdown

Ashé Cac, 6PM

Live music, DJs, and dance

 

Mike Dillon

The Music Box Village, 6:30PM

Punk rock percussion

 

Herbs & Rituals

Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM

Class for women's health

 

Shorty Fest

House of Blues, 7:30PM

Benefit concert for his namesake foundation

 

AllNight Show 

The Historic Carver Theater, 8PM

Feat. Ian Neville, Nikki Glaspie, SSHH feat. Zak Starkey of The Who

 

Jurassic 5

The Howlin Wolf, 9PM

Feat. Blackalicious

 

Foundation of Funk

Republic NOLA, 9PM

Feat. George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste

 

Jazz: In and Out

Music at the Mint, 9PM

Live music to benefit the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp


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.

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt


Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily