Thursday, April 19, 2012

Little Armenia in Los Angeles

After our readings about Japanese and Mexican culture and communities in the Los Angeles area, I found myself wondering what other waves of immigration had passed through and settled there. I searched through some tourist sites and decided to pick a “little” or “town” (as in Little Italy or Chinatown) neighborhood upon which to focus my attention.
I quickly found a segment of the LAist blog entitled “Neighborhood Project,” which undertook the lofty task of writing a post about each of LA’s astounding 172 established communities. The first post was about Little Armenia, a community I didn’t even know existed in LA. Check out the post here for great pictures and witty captions about this neighborhood.
Little Armenia is in East Hollywood and is populated by many immigrants and their families who escaped the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This is a mural between Fountain and Santa Monica Boulevard that depicts the history of Armenia, demonstrating the importance of national history in the memories and backgrounds of many of the community’s inhabitants. The title Little Armenia was officially designated by the city in 2000 to note the strong presence of the residential and commercial Armenian population; I found this to be an interesting combination of Carlo Rotella’s hard and soft aspects of a neighborhood, as Little Armenia’s cultural identity in this case fused with its physicality and official borders.
Because I love Armenian food, I also looked into good restaurants in Little Armenia (for this blog post and perhaps future purposes). The neighborhood is apparently bursting with amazing chicken restaurants, falafel vendors, upscale Armenian and Lebanese fusion restaurants like Carousel, and traditional Armenian bakeries. During this investigative process, I discovered there are also many Thai restaurants and markets because Little Armenia borders Thai Town; moments later I stumbled into a highly recommended subset of Mexican and Central American restaurants, also directly within the neighborhood’s technical boundaries.
Many posts have referred back to “Citizen Restaurant” to discuss the ways in which food reflects and interacts with culture. I think the diverse offerings of Little Armenia comprise yet another example of the article’s relevance: this unexpected diversity of ethnic and fusion foods (in an LA neighborhood already designated by one particular ethnicity) shows the ways in which food represent, interact with, and mix cultures.  

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