In previous trips to Southern California, we’d always flown in and out of LAX since it seemed like it was the most direct way to get there. But Chris found out that there actually was a direct flight from Orange County (via Santa Ana) to JFK once a day, and so he booked our return flights to New York via Orange County. This gave us more time to explore in further depth the Orange County area and places we had not yet seen much of. You could truly spend years exploring Orange County and never get through it, but this segment of our trip gave us more time to do so.
I already knew that Orange County had a big Central/South American and Vietnamese/Filipino population, but I was unaware before doing a quick search on Google that Anaheim is actually known for having an area called Little Arabia. Most people who are aware of Anaheim know that it is home to Disneyland California. Little Arabia would be news to most people, though, even those who are local to Southern California.
Earlier this week, we ate at an Iraqi restaurant that had delicious kebabs, tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb shank, and even an interesting grape soda we’d never tried before. We stopped by a Syrian bakery that had plenty of Western and Middle Eastern sweets, but a hidden item on the menu was bouza ice cream, similar to Turkish dondurma ice cream in its chewy/stretchy texture, which it gets from mastik and orchid flour. When you order it, it’s churned to order and rolled with ground pistachios. It was super stretchy and fragrant of rose water. Our last stop in this area was a Palestinian bakery, where we had cream kanefe (the first cream version we’d ever had, and not too sweet!) along with Turkish coffee, and a delicious spiced and sweetened milk tea, fragrant from caradmom and cloves. The coffee and tea were made to order and with a lot of care from the owner of the bakery, who was extremely warm and hospitable. All were in strip malls, so very much a classic SoCal experience.
We could spend ages exploring SoCal for all its delicious ethnic food and never get through it all. But at least we had a good taste of it, though brief, this segment of our trip.