Valentine, A True Love Story

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I’m a die hard romantic. I’m in love with love.  I love that it’s happy, sad, painful, pleasant, forgiving, humble, noble, giving, receiving, sensitive, strong, undying, mysterious, sensual, complex, and so much more.  Ever since I was a child I loved the traditional romantic Mexican/Latino singer icons like Pedro Infante, Sara Montiel, El Puma, Rocio Durcal, etc and I’d lock myself in my room and listen to them for hours. I would write poems and love letters to nobody (haha).

So no guessing that I love Valentine’s Day, though I don’t recall the history of why we celebrate it nor do I recall what I learned in Catholic elementary school?

I got curious, so I did some research, and I found this article to be the simplest summary  (because apparently there are several stories- which makes me love the holiday even more!)   All versions are indeed in some way, a form of love.  History of Valentine

According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Embrace February and embrace love.  Choose to give and receive love for your neighbor, your child, your parent, your friend, your teacher, your partner, your boss, your co-worker, choose to love.  And with your romantic partner, spice it up, take things up a notch, tell him/her how you feel about them, make it all about them.

Still struggling with plans? El Burrito Mercado is open for dinner and we are offering choice of a complimentary tequila or sparkling wine with your dinner, and an option for a sexy, aphrodisiac inspired dessert, plus live music by the talented duet Pedro y Donna. Reservations through opentable or call 651-227-2192

 

 

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Are Aphrodisiacs for Real?

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Can you think of a better way to spice up Valentine’s date night than at El Burrito Mercado? We’ll be serving up all the right components: spicy food, romantic music, and aphrodisiac inspired desserts & drinks! Reserve today 651-227-2192

“Spicy foods have long been considered to be sexual stimulants. There is some scientific truth to this claim in that foods that are heavily spiced often contain capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. Eating capsaicin can cause a physiological response — increased heart rate andmetabolism, sometimes even sweating — that is quite similar to the physical reactions experienced during sex.”

Read the entire article here Aphrodisiacs: Better Sex or Just Bunk:

Feliz Dia del Amor y la Amistad!

 

Spicy Food= Spicy Sex Life?

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There’s something about spicy food … not only does it taste SOOO good, it gets your heart going, makes you sweat and gives you a mood boost, it increases your metabolism, has several health benefits AND it’s an aphrodisiac! Read more to find out how to spice up your sex life with spicy food!

via Food and Wine: Spicy Food for a Spicy Sex Life — Suzie the Single Dating Diva

Tamales Are an Experience

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Tamales are not just masa and meats wrapped in corn husks,  a whole experience is wrapped into tamales, they are full of flavor, family, friends, memories, traditions, and history!

The tamale is recorded as early as 5000 BC, possibly 7000 BC in Pre-Columbian history.  The women would make tamales for the hunters or when in battle would travel with them, the tamal is a filling meal and holds well for traveling.

Over the centuries tamales remain as one of the most traditional foods in Mexico, and also in Central & Southern America.  There are so many variety that are often distinguished by the region of Mexico, the technique for the masa (corn dough) making is fairly consistent, however the fillings have a huge variety.  One thing for sure, they are labor intense and time consuming to make, thus now they are so often only made during the holidays or special celebrations.

What I enjoy most of tamales, besides eating them, is the event itself of making the tamales, the tamalada, which is the assemblying of the tamales (soaking the corn husks, spreading the masa, filling them, wrapping them, and cooking).  I guess it’s similar to getting together and making Christmas cookies.  It’s really quite an event to make the tamales, most often entailing 2-3days of preparation for the shopping of ingredients, preparation of the mole, preparation of the masa, then the assembling, and finally the cooking.  If you are making tamales from scratch, and most likely making several dozens, it requires, and is much more fun when family and/or friends participate!  The holidays are a great time for a tamalada, growing up my mom and the tias (aunties) and cousins made everything from scratch.  And if you are planning on making tamales from scratch and it’s your first time, I highly recommend to have at least one experienced person assisting you so you to get perfect tamales, everything from the masa to the sauce to the cooking process has it’s tricks- trust me!  I’m lucky I have El Burrito Mercado to get the prepared masa and tamales fillings so all I have to do is assemble the tamales and cook em up!

Four years ago we held our first tamalada class and people look forward to it now, this weekend we had our 2016 tamalada in our newly expanded La Placita Room and it was a success! Everyone had a great time, my mother, our matriarch, shares some really fun stories and a plethora of information all about tamales while the class sipped on cocktails and ate dinner. Then, the last half of class everyone assembles their tamales, learns about tamales cooking techniques and then enjoy dessert & ponche navideno, each person walks away with a swag bag full of goodies.

Here are some pictures from our 2016 tamalada:

 

We are offering another tamalada in January, this event is open for kids too, 12yr and older, it’s a wonderful cultural experience, eat delicious authentic dinner, learn the basics about tamale making and then assemble your own to take home and freeze to later cook for your Superbowl party or for any event! Registration is now open and limited capacity, register soon, makes a great holiday gift!

So you see, tamales are not only masa and meats wrapped in the corn husk, also wrapped into each tamal is history, tradition, flavor, memories, and experiences.

Cheers, to your Tamalada!

La Madre de Mexicanos, La Virgen de Guadalupe

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Virgen de Guadalupe, la madre de todo Mexicano!Con ninguna nación ha hecho nada igual la Virgen. Ella tuvo un gesto muy especial de amor para los mexicanos y sabía que nosotros la quereríamos siempre con todo nuestro corazón.

Mucho Mexicano y Latino celebra el 12 de Diciembre la fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe y todos los días del año, “La Basílica”, o “La Villa”, se llena de miles de peregrinos que vienen de diferentes pueblos a rendir culto a Nuestra Madre , y a pedirle que les de su protección y ayuda.

 Católicos Mexicanos aman y veneran a la Virgencita de Guadalupe, porque es nuestra madre del cielo.

Este mes pediremos a la Virgen de Guadalupe que ayude a todo el pueblo de México, a todos sus hijos, a vivir unidos y a salir adelante. Amala y encomiéndate a ella todos los días. 

Aunque no sea Catolico, uno puede respetar y apreciar el amor del Mexicano y Latino a la Virgen. 

(La historia de la Virgen de Guadalupe: https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuestra_Señora_de_Guadalupe_(México) Our Lady of Guadalupe story http://www.catholic.org/about/guadalupe.php

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Virgin of Guadalupe, the mother of all Mexicano!

With no other nation has the Virgen done anything like this. She had a very special love for the Mexicans and she knew that we would always love her with all our heart.

A lot of Mexicans and Latinos celebrate December 12 the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe and every day of the year, at “La Basilica”, or “La Villa”, where it is filled with thousands of pilgrims who come from different villages to worship Our Mother, and to ask her for protection and help.

On this day people from all parts of Mexico make their way to Mexico’s chief religious center at the Basilica of the Virgen of Guadalupe, located in Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo, a northern neighbourhood of Mexico City. There, they will celebrate the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) with a mass ceremony and a traditional fair in her honor. The Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe became a national holiday in 1859.

Today, tens of thousands of people travel to Mexico City to visit the place where the Virgin appeared to the Mexican People. The holiday is a national fiesta that includes traditional music and fun attractions. Pilgrims bring presents to the virgin, usually bouquets of flowers while other visitors will perform dances and song for her. Some pilgrims walk on their knees on the stone street leading to the Basilica, asking for miracles or giving thanks to the virgin for a petition granted.

 Today we too honor her & give her thanks at www.elburritomercado.com with songs to her accompanied by Mariachi & complimentary tamales & pan dulce.

Even if you are not Catholic, one can appreciate & respect the love of Mexican & Latino Catholics to la Virgen de Guadalupe.


Viva Mexico! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos, so they RIP

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What is Day of the Dead a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world. The holiday focuses on celebrating the life of those that have passed, to pray for them, and help support their spiritual journey. We celebrate their life and support their journey so they can rest in peace.

Traditionally, the departed children or babies are remembered on November 1, (Dia de los Inocentes), and November 2 focuses on the departed adults (aka All Souls Day). There is nothing somber or scary about the holiday. The dead come as spirits from another world to be with their living relatives and to visit in their homes. They do not come to scare or haunt as we believe Halloween spirits do.  Dia de los Muertos is a special and unique holiday, it’s a great opportunity to expose yourself or your children to learn about other cultures.  I’ve listed at the end of this blog several activities and events around the twin cities that you can participate or attend. This video does an amazing job of depicting the spirit of Dia de muertos  in a 3min video, watch http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/our-issues/dia-de-los-muertos-short-film

How to celebrate Dia de los Muertos? 
Building an ofrenda is the traditional and most common way to remember and honor a dear one that has passed.  Some also go the tombstone of the deceased and decorate the ofrenda and celebrate right at the cemetary, in Mexico this is common, family and friends gather and sing, eat, and remember the deceased in a joyous manner.

If you are going to build an ofrenda, an altar to entice the deceased to come visit, traditionally, there are several components to include in building the ‘ofrenda’ (the “offerings”) .  One of the most common elements are marigolds, or Flor del Muerto – Flower of the Dead. The flowers are thought to bring out the dead souls to feast on the offerings laid on the table or headstone.

The marigold came with Spanish traders to Africa and Europe. Wanting to disconnect it from the flower’s past, the breeding programs held in Africa and Europe gave this great flower the name of “African” and “French” marigold. After the flower was disconnected from its past reputation as the flower of death, it was introduced into the gardens of the world.

Today the flowers are prized by gardeners the world over for their long lived blooms that love the heat of summer. They are to be found in gardens across the world, a testament to the wonder of this wonderful flower of the dead.

The marigold most commonly used in Dia de los Muertos celebrations is the Targetes erecta or African Marigold, otherwise known as cempasúchil or flower of the dead. They will  remove the petals from the flower and spread them on the ground to make a path to the house and to the grave.  The pungent aroma of the marigold and the bright color of the yellow petals will guide the spirit to the home altar (ofrenda) and to the cemetery.  Marigolds are also fashioned into elaborate arches for display on altars and graves. In some villages, people leave a trail of marigolds from their front door to their loved one’s grave, so that the deceased may easily find their way back home again. The attractive scent of the marigold is said to draw them back to earth for the yearly Dia de los Muertos reunion.
Since prehispanic times, this plant has had medicinal purposes and it is thought to cure stomach ache, parasites, diarrhea, liver illnesses, vomiting, and toothache among other illnesses. The flowers are still used in many areas to cure these and other ailments. All of these illnesses are said to be cured by a tea made from the flowers, eating the flowers, or wearing the flowers in a

pouch around the neck. http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/245/#ixzz3pJjEDMxo

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Salt and water are also essential; they are set to quench the thirst of the souls, tired from their long trip. Water also purifies and cleanses.

Incense, Copal, is burned and thought to elevate  prayers to God. Pan de Muerto the breads are placed on shrines and altars as offerings for the deceased and are given to visitors arriving for the celebration. Pan de Muerto is shaped like a funeral mound…with a few extra bumpy protrusions. The ball and strips of dough decorating the top of the loaf represent the skull and limbs of the muerto peeking through the top of the mound. We like this summary best: The bones represent the disappeared one (difuntos or difuntas) and there is normally a baked tear drop on the bread to represents tears for the living. The bones are represented in a circle to portray the circle of life. It is sweet, fluffy, decorated in sugar, and most traditionally flavored with anise, cinnamon, and/or an orange zest flavor.  Pan de Muerto will be available starting this weekend October 8 in our panaderia (bakery)  pandemrtoimage1

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Papel picado is present as a symbol of wind/air, candles to light the way of the deceased.  And favorite items, foods, beverages, hobbies are also commonly displayed on the altar of the deceased.
The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos may be the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, as parade masks, as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.

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Mini Calaca
All of these items can be found at El Burrito Mercado, every year we build an ofrenda and keep it on display through mid November.  This year our ofrenda is for Juan Gabriel,he passed away recently and he was one of my favorite Mexican artists, we included album covers and the guitar, symbolic of his love and music talent.  Our creative Resident Artist & Decorator, Denisea Elsola does an amazing job every year, she is so creative, visit us and get inspired to build an artistic ofrenda.   We hope you will consider building your own ofrenda and partake in this colorful celebration of life!

If you are looking for Dia de los Muertos activities, here are several options:

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FESTIVAL DE LA CALAVERAS
Series of workshops through Electric Machete Studios, follow them on facebook for the details: Ofrenda/Altar Workshops Series 1 Sugar Skull Workshop

QUE EN PAZ DESCANSEN NUESTROS QUERIDOS ESTRELLAS.

Peace.

Milissa

 

 

 

“…And I Could Feel Mexico”

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I was Born and raised on the now culturally diverse “Westside” community of St. Paul, I found rescue and joy in discovering my heritage through performing Mexican folklore at the age of 8, participated in a Latina pageant, Embajadora Hispana, a leadership program for Latina youth, and most importantly, as it relates to my culture, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to grow up in one of Minnesota’s favorite Mexican market & restaurant, El Burrito Mercado.

  Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was being raised bi-culturally (in the very upper midwest),  however, what I did know at the time, was that in spite of being raised in a very, very caucasian city, (St. Paul in the 1980’s early 90’s looked very different than it does today), I was exposed to my heritage through Our Lady of Guadalupe church, Mexican Folklorico dancing, and our family business, El Burrito Mercado.  And, probably one of the most influential experiences for me culturally, was that a very young age my dad took us to his humble pueblo (small town) where he was raised in the outskirts of Aguascalientes, Mexico, and I fell in love with it!

I recall one of my first visits to the farm in Mexico, there was no toilet, just a hole in the ground, the cows were just on the other side of the ‘kitchen’ (a table, a shelf, and a stove. The ‘sink’ was a pipe sticking out of the ground with pumping water and a bucket (and I loved to wash dishes!) I loved going to the little corner tiendita (store) and exchanging the coke bottles, and getting my soda in a plastic bag with a straw.  I loved the movie in a patio or placita where the whole pueblo could go watch (and novios could hide in dark corners), I loved the smell of fresh corn tortillas and trying to help tia San Juana make fresh tortillas early in the morning. The primos (cousins) had their fun giggles at my expense!  I felt I belonged, everybody looked like me, the food was the same food my mom made at home, everybody spoke the same language my dad spoke to us, I was overwhelmed with emotions, and I could feel Mexico.  I remember one of those early trips to Aguascalientes, that I cried when we had to leave, I did not want to go back to gringolandia where hardly anybody looked like me, and where I felt like an alien in school.  I felt Mexico calling me and I went to study abroad in Guadalajara during my college years, it was another impacting life milestone.  But when I was home here in Minnesota, the only place I felt I truly belonged was at El Burrito Mercado, I was 8yrs old when my parents bought the tiny market, I’ll be 45yr old this year, it’s a part of me.

My bi-cultural life was filled with both wonderful, cultural experiences and difficult adversities, and I embrace all of it because it has brought me to the place I am now, and I am happy. I love Mexico and I love USA! I cry when I watch an Amalia Hernandez folklorico production and I am equally moved by American favorites broadways, I cried at the death of our querido Juan Gabriel and was also emotional at the death of Prince. I love tacos and I love hamburgers. I take great pride in both my Mexican-ness and my American-ness.

Though as a child and through adoloscence I struggled with my identity and finding my ‘true self’, years ago I finally understood that I didn’t have to choose one culture or the other, I learned to embrace both and it is now my compelling drive and vision for the business.  I feel lucky because I get two of everything, and you should have that too! So, I have chosen to infuse others with my passion sharing la experiencia Mexicana through El Burrito Mercado. The most rewarding comments we get from both new customers and loyal customers, is that they feel like they are somewhere else when they visit, they feel they are in Mexico, the music, the fresh authentic foods, the aromas, and the nostalgia they experience when they browse through the mercado and find ingredients and brands from Mexico and Latino America too. It’s what keeps me inspired!

And now, in my still new role as a partner legacy-owner, and CEO of El Burrito Mercado, and where I am often affectionately referred to from my staff as “La Jefa” or the boss, (to which I respond, “just call me Milissa!”), I am combining my passion for Mexican culture, my entrepreneurial spark, and my desire for improving cultural disparities & stereotypes by keeping our business model authentic, quality, and offering traditional experiencias Mexicanas.

It’s not just about the experiential aspect of our business that I enjoy, I also perfectly understand and am also motivated by the challenges of being a profitable and growing small business. Though truly, I am primarily inspired by the notion of offering something unique to people, it’s an exciting time for our family, Mexicana, women owned and operated business.

This week kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15, September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. And though I celebrate our heritage every day, I recognize that not everyone else does.  I consider this a time for our country to recognize all the contributions and richness Hispanos, Latinos have gifted to our country, and to embrace that richness by celebrating, learning, and sharing. 

Our Resident Decorator/Artist Denisea Elsola is dressing up the entire mercado with festive decor, we are featuring specials to intrigue you to try something new:

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If you are planning your own fiesta at home, school, or work and want some ideas on how to celebrate, email me milissa@elburritomercado.com or for help with catering food and a specialty margarita bar, contact my niece, Catering & Special Events Manager, Analita, analita@elburritomercado.com

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In addition to our mercado’s already unique style and ambiance for shopping, drinking, and eating, I am so excited about our expanding El Cafe y Bar to include more events and experiences, the indoor expansion will be complete in October and La Placita Patio will open in May 2017, more details and information coming soon! 

Finally, I am thrilled to be a member of the host committee for Casa de Esperanza’s 1st Annual Latina Leadership Celebration.  If you are searching a unique opportunity to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, this is an important event to consider attending on September 30th. Details about the organization and how to attend the event are through this Honoring Latina Leadership link

Viva Mexico, visit us soon and visit us often!

Saludos,

Milissa