Street Vendors Reflect Aspects Of Venice Culture

How Venice’s hard-working street vendors re-build their buisness post-pandemic

Art made by senior Taylor Mah

Art made by senior Taylor Mah

Angeline Sanabria, Reporter

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Los Angeles has a very distinguishable culture. It’s one of the most diverse cities for eating in the United States. 

And the best food in Los Angeles is on the streets. Although some may say street vendors have a minor significance, I believe they play a major part in Los Angeles culture. 

At the corner of Venice and Centinela, Patricia Sarragosa has a set-up selling elotes and equites, elotes and esquites which are corn, mayonnaise, cheese, and chili powder. A street food classic. 

Sarragosa has been a street vendor for twenty years and she loves it. But COVID-19 has affected her business significantly. 

 “Me bajo mucho el trabajo porque todo está muy caro y la gente casi no compra mucho,” she says. 

She continues to run her business because even though she enjoys it, it’s her means of providing for her kids. 

“Estoy trabajando en mi casa y los estoy cuidando,” she says.

Most street vendors provide the main source of income for their families, and they are really hard working people.

Another street vendor in Venice is Fernando Reyez, who sells fruit in different parts of the neighborhood. The fruit always includes chili seasoning which tops off watermelon, mango, coconut, and cucumber.  

He’s been a street vendor for about a year and says business during the pandemic was successful for him. 

“Era cuando más compraban porque las tiendas estaban cerradas,” he says.

The last vendor that I talked with had twenty two years of experience. Her name is Silvia Fernandez, who arrived in California in 2000 when she was twenty-six-years-old. 

However when she came with her husband she had to start street vending and wasn’t very fond of the idea. 

“ A mi se me hizo muy triste, como yo voy hacer eso, como bien humillante.”

After the third day of her husband teaching her how to sell, he sent her out on her own. It takes a brave person to start street vending, to get out of your comfort zone and learn the process behind it all. 

“No conoces a nadie, yo soy de un pueblo en México, no sabes las calles, ni inglés,” she says. 

Although she didn’t like it, she continued and as time passed she got comfortable. She now enjoys it and is more open to talking to people. Silvia sells raspados, which are frozen desserts made with shaved ice and topped with flavored syrups.  

She notes how her customers are frequently those who are familiar with street-vending culture, especially immigrant communities. Los Angeles, in particular, is a city that’s been shaped by waves of immigration from Asia, Mexico, and Latin America. 

“Pienso que todo esto es por las mismas personas que venimos, porque muy poco son los güeros, son más los chinos que vienen y te compran, es nuestra misma gente que viene y te compra, están acostumbradas a la comida de nosotros,” she says. 

It’s really amazing how these different cultures come together in street food. These vendors are what make Los Angeles the best city for food.