L.A. Diet

La Cucaracha Creator Lalo Alcaraz Eats Korean at The OTIS Cafeteria, Has a Passion For Beans

Lalo Alcaraz, the award-winning cartoonist behind the nationally syndicated daily comic strip La Cucaracha, jefe-in-chief of Pocho.com, and the radio host of KPFK’s “Pocho Hour of Power,” fuels his daily inspiration by squeezing in triple lattes and custom-made creations from the student cafeteria at Otis College of Art and Design, where he teaches a class on editorial illustration. “I always try to change it up man. It’s easy for me to get bored with food,” Alcaraz tells Grub Street, “so hay que cambiarle, you know?” What type of foods did the pioneering Mexican-American artist get creative with this week? Read all about what Lalo ate this week in today’s L.A. Diet.

Wednesday, April 10
I get up at 6:00 A.M. everyday and take the kids to school. On Wednesdays I get ready for my class that I teach, “Editorial Illustration” at Otis. I often bolt out of here about 30 minutes too late. I may walk in a little late to school, so sometimes I don’t get a chance to eat lunch until later on in the afternoon. When I assign my students to draw something, I can run out then for a quick bite.

At Otis, there’s a little restaurant in the ground floor where everybody eats. The menu is kind of ‘ehh,’ but they have Korean food sometimes, which these two Central American brothers make, and that stuff is pretty good. There’s this one dish that seems like a big salad with noodles in it. It’s got an egg, some sauce, and a few different veggies. I didn’t get it today and got a croissant and dried green beans to snack on instead.

For dinner, I had a quick drive-thru bean and rice veggie burrito from Rick’s Drive In & Out.

Thursday, April 11
Thursday is deadline day for me. I get up at 6:00 A.M. and work all through the night, as late as I can handle it, usually until around midnight or 1:00 A.M. Breakfast is usually Trader Joe’s fruit and granola cereal.

Then I usually get hungry around noon. When I do, I stop everything and eat. Today, I made myself some stir-fried veggies with steamed rice, and doctored it up with a few mushrooms since I hardly eat red meat. I like Chinese chili oil a lot too. My deadline is 2:30 P.M., so I can afford to send stuff in until then.

For dinner, I cooked some pork chops with a ton of onion and a little oil. No one else likes onion in the family. We had that with some instant mashed potatoes and veggies.

Friday, April 12
Breakfast was quick, the same breakfast of Trader Joe’s fruit and granola. Friday is also deadline day for me, so I’m rushing in the morning because I gotta get out of here by 2:30 for my show on KPFK and have all of my stuff turned in. I try not to linger here around too long with food, so I had the stir fry leftovers from yesterday for lunch.

For dinner, I stopped at Miki Chan’s Okazu Ya on my way back home from the show. Since I’m usually in traffic for two hours or more, I usually eat there on Fridays. It’s in Montebello, in a strip mall right off the 60 Freeway. It’s like Japanese-Hawaiian style, mixed with a little bit of Chinese. Though the original family sold it in the nineties and it’s not the same. But it’s still a whole lot better than the MSG crap you’ll find everywhere else. I get the chicken with that sauce, rice, and macaroni salad. It’s really good.

Saturday, April 13
I stopped at Golden Ox in Whittier for breakfast. I always have the cheese omelette with beans and tortillas instead of potatoes and toast. I’m a straight up beaner, man. I like beans in all forms. I think I like hummus for that same reason, had that for lunch with a bunch of raw radishes. And I bought some Persian mini cucumbers and I’ve been eating those all week. I’ve been on a veggie kick lately. Finished up the last of the leftover stir fry too.

For dinner, I went to this comic convention in Glassell Park, Marvel Madness. It was real fun, man. I took photos with all of the six people that went dressed up. But before that, I couldn’t find the place. So, I stopped at Los Burritos and just got their bean and rice burrito. It was pretty late already, but I had to eat something. I didn’t want to get meat, even chicken. It was cool; a sit-down type of place. At the convention, they were giving Rolling Rocks and I pounded a few of those.

Sunday, April 14
We went to go watch 42. So we go the movie theater and I leave everyone in the music theater. I go the local Coffee Bean. Get a triple latte for myself and a Jalapeño bagel, with cream cheese for myself. I snuck that in back to the movies. And then the projector blew up! I had to go to another theater, had some popcorn with butter and caramel powder. You know, because it’s only the best for me. Dinner was a family spaghetti dinner with french bread. My wife cooked that.

Monday, April 15
Every morning I make Pete’s Coffee at the house. Though I also drink Starbucks every day, too. I drink a lot of coffee. Pete’s is the best.

Lunch was a spring onion rice noodle bowl soup with stir fried veggies. It wasn’t a ramen thing. It was a little better than that. The soup came out green though. It was not appealing. I could see why it was discounted, but it tasted good.

I took my son to little league practice that night, which usually means a fish sandwich from Jack in the Box. I ordered out, then supplemented the burger with steamed peas and mushrooms at home.

La Cucaracha Creator Lalo Alcaraz Eats Korean at The OTIS Cafeteria, Has