‘Ya-Ka-Mein Lady’ launches Bloody Mary mix

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the name of the LSU AgCenter Food Innovation Institute.

The cancellation of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this month due to Louisiana’s fourth COVID-19 surge means fans will have to wait a bit longer before savoring the fest’s iconic eats. But for lovers of ya-ka-mein, the Creole-influenced Chinese noodle soup and reputed hangover cure, there’s reason to celebrate.

The dish’s most recognizable ambassador, self-described “Ya-Ka-Mein Lady” Linda Green, has rolled out Ya-Ka-Mary Bloody Mary Mix, a product manufactured and bottled at the LSU AgCenter Food Innovation Institute, or Foodii, and soon to be sold at Rouses Markets.

The idea for the mix came in 2017, when Green was planning to enter a bloody mary competition at the Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans. She says she made a batch of bloody marys using the same proprietary dry seasonings she deploys in her ya-ka-mein, which she’s sold for years at Jazz Fest and during many of the city’s second line parades.

“I already had my seasonings, and I was playing around with it in a bloody mary,” Green says. “It came out so delicious, and I won.”

More competitive success followed with the Ya-Ka-Mary formula, and in 2020, Green was approached by Foodii executive director Gaye Sandoz about bottling the product at the Foodii incubator. Green already had a relationship with Rouses; she sells ya-ka-mein at the supermarket chain’s Tchoupitoulas Street location in regular pop-ups.

Part of the lure of a bloody mary is its garnishes, and the ever-ebullient Green advises a tower of accoutrements that include pickled okra, pickled green beans, pickled peppers, dill pickles and, in the spirit of ya-ka-mein, the final topping of a hard-boiled egg.

Green seems to have created her own full-circle product line. Drink enough of her Ya-Ka-Marys, and you might find yourself needing her hangover cure. neworleanssoulfood.com

This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue of 225 magazine.

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