A Little Off-Topic: Southern Food and "The Help"
If you've been to the movies lately, you've most likely seen the trailer for the movie "The Help". It looks interesting; I can quite decide if if they've watered down the wholly wonderful and difficult to read 2009 book by Kathryn Stockett. "The Help" chronicles the lives of women on different rungs of the social ladder in early 1960's Jackson, Mississippi from the ladies of the Junior League to the African-American maids that run their homes and raise their children. It's by turns, funny and heartbreaking and I consumed it in two evenings. It is not, however, a comedy, which the trailer sort of makes it, and I hope they didn't try to "humanize" the main villain. This isn't "The Devil Wears Pappagallo" and there's nothing redeemable about Hilly Holbrook. She is a monster. She makes Miranda Priestly look like Mary Poppins. I'll go see the movie because of the flawless cast (I could watch Viola Davis read a telephone book) but I hope it's not watered down.
Of course, being a book about domestics in the South, food is a part of the plot. I defy you not to get hunger pangs over the descriptions of fired chicken, grits and caramel cake. Here in Los Angeles we're lucky enough to have a couple places that serve excellent Southern food. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is of course renowned, with three locations in Los Angeles that are always crowded. More off the beaten track in Eagle Rock is Larkin's which mixes up traditional southern food with a bit of a twist. Chef Larkin Mackey sparks up his dishes with a dash of Mexican spice. I can highly recommend the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. Bring a friend or three; portions are large and you'll want to taste everything. Reviews on Yelp mention that the service can be kind of lackadaisical, but frankly I want to enjoy my food so I don't much care that they are taking obvious care in cooking it. I don't want chicken that's precooked and "held" for g-d knows how long before being finished and served to me.
If you're in LA it's really worth a trip to Eagle Rock. If you're in Pasadena it's only one stop away going West on the 134. The address is 1496 Colorado Blvd (between Loleta & Hartwick), Eagle Rock, CA 90041. They don't have liquor, but you can bring your own with no corkage (at least when I last was there). They also don't have much in the way of signage; they're on the South East corner in a little brown bungalow with parking in front. Cindy's Diner is on the South West corner; you can practically see that from space, so navigate by that.
Great, now I'm hungry..
If you have a favorite place for soul food (or read the book and are looking forward to the movie) please discuss in the comments.