Los Angeles Chinese New Year 2013

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Did you know the history of the Chinese New Year all started out of fear? Story has it that centuries ago a wise old man counseled villagers to ward off the evil “Nian” by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers. Bright red paper lanterns are made in a variety of shapes and sizes and paraded through the streets because the Nian is afraid of the color red.  Well, this fearless Food Stalker isn’t afraid of a wearing a smashing red Valentino dress with matching red soled Louboutin’s or hopping in front of horses, (dodging horse dung) floats and marching bands to capture unique images for the blog. One must be committed, right?

After reading about the Golden Dragon Parade I jumped in my car driving as fast as you could say Truffle Miso Soup, heading to Chinatown along with 125,000 other Los Angeles parade goers for the 114th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. In my hour-long drive I almost rear-ended Joe’s Tow Truck, a BMW hugging a blind curve in my lane and a man crossing the street who thought the road was his own private backyard, taking his sweet little time. Ah yes, city slickers at their finest!

This year Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck were grand marshals and mingled with the festive crowds. 2013 is The Year of The Snake, full of new possibility. It’s a holiday during which firecrackers are lit and the beat of drums are heard on the street. Children are given red envelopes with money inside. No wonder they look so happy. What’s the cut-off age for this tradition anyway? Amongst all the pageantry, what caught my eye were the children. As I looked through my camera lens I was drawn to their facial expressions and colorful, playful costumes. They seemed to embrace their characters, posing for each photographer ever so graciously.

Just as with any New Year celebration, food is an important component. The festival attracted large crowds for Chinatown as well as food festival vendors who served goodies such as crepes, burgers, seafood and Mediterranean dishes. People wandered in and out of Food Courts enjoying traditional foods including nian gao or sweet sticky rice cake and savory dumplings – which are round and symbolize never-ending wealth.

Food Trucks including: Gourmet Genie, Frysmith, Greasy Wiener, Kogi, Cool Haus, Jogasaki Burrito, Crepe N Around, Trailer Park Truck, Calbi BBQ and Sweet E’s Bake Shop served mind-blowing street food.  The Chinese often light long strings of red firecrackers to ward off the previous year’s evil spirits. Perhaps I should do the same at home complete with a dragon dance once I finish eating my delicious macaroons from Bottega Louie. Look, it was just a few blocks around the corner ok? A girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do!

You’ve heard the expression before, don’t follow your dreams, chase them. Well honey, this Stalker gal is running just as fast as these two skinny legs can take her. I inherited the gene for the urge to explore and I’m having one Hell of a time doing it! Ahh yes, total blog madness. Trips to orchestrate, head constantly spinning with ideas, the Oscars this weekend and a husband who’s starting to think shopping the sales at Barney’s wasn’t so bad after all….

* Photography by Sandie Ward – (copyright – inquire to use images)

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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