Expose on food at the weekly Algiers Flea Market (VICE. Feb. 2014).

Three massive ethnic flea markets open simultaneously at the base of New Orleans’s West Bank Expressway each Saturday and Sunday. Because this weekly conglomeration blooms on the relatively uncool side of the Mississippi in Algiers—the second oldest neighborhood in Orleans Parish, directly across the water from the French Quarter—the thrifterati have no idea about it, nor do New Orleans’s gastronomes, who sleep late during the market’s weekly Latin feast, where there are as many booths and trucks as at your average New Orleans music festival. Currently divided into three big areas—each with a different name and run by a different family—this Algiers market is over 40 years old.

I step out of my car behind a table where two black ladies haggle over some New Orleans Saints gear. “You gotta represent!” the older one says. I scan tables stacked with makeup, shoes, toys, sunglasses, hair bows and balls, used tools, baseball hats—everything you’d expect and more, laid neatly across crammed-together plywood booths. Within a few steps, I’ve bought a nice student guitar for my daughter for $10. I inspect a Master P “I Got the Hook Up” T-shirt at the booth of the old lady who, the last time I was here, sold me a brand-new Michael Jackson “R.I.P.” shirt for $2.

Food-wise, the first of the three markets, called Algiers Mini Mart, hosts but one humble fruit and vegetable stand and a small fry kitchen in what looks like a big white outhouse. Robert Cotton has run this kitchen in this section of the market for 13 years, but he started running the whole shebang six months ago on behalf of 91-year-old owner Betty Grandbouche, who opened the market in 1974 as a simple New Orleans sno-ball stand with a little yard sale area. For health reasons, Betty now prefers to stay at home. “They’re ruining the market,” she says when I ask about all the great new Latin food that’s moved onto the lot behind hers since Katrina. “I have tried my best to keep them off of that lot.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at VICE.com…

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