HOLIDAY

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!

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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

 

 

 

How to Plan a Tamalada

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Tamalada is a great holiday event that brings together family and friends, I’ve even had work teams want to do this as a team building activity and then they proudly enjoy their tamales at their holiday party!

Gingerbread and sugar cookies are seasonal musts for many, but tamales are a holiday staple for Mexican and Latino families like mine. For centuries, tamales were the ideal travel food for Aztec, Mayan and Incan soldiers, farmers or anyone who might be away from home at mealtime because the stuffed delicacies travel so well in their own little ‘packaging’, aka the corn husks.  Countless variations have been passed down from generation to generation.

In Mexico through Latin America and in the USA too, around this time of year begins the tamales making, aka, tamaladas, it’s basically our holiday kick off, and it’s essentially the coming together of people to assemble tamales together.  Some choose to cook them and share them with friends, same way we do for cookies, others freeze them uncooked and cook them the day of their holiday celebrations.  If you go to a holiday celebration with Latinos, most likely you are going to eat tamales!

As for making the tamales, it can be a bit timely and labor intense process, so for those that host a tamalada, typically they either make the filling options and masa in advance, or purchase it ready to use from a restaurant or deli like ours El Burrito Mercado.  Masa is the corn dough that spreads onto the corn husk, it’s important to have a good masa, meaning it is prepared with the right balance of ingredients, this is a key determinator for whether your tamales will make it or not!  I highly recommend buying or masa preparada (ready to spread corn dough), and we do also sell masa regular, some people like to mix their own ingredients into the masa.

For the fillings, the most traditional of tamales fillings is shredded pork in a red chile sauce or shredded chicken in a green sauce, there is an extensive variety of tamales filling options, and so it’s really up to the hostess to decide and have it ready in advance.  Some other variations: roasted poblano with cheese, vegetables, beef, beans, and peppers. The other step that a hostess might want to have ready in advance is the preparation of the hojas by soaking them in hot water, this makes the tamales pliable and easier to for spreading the masa onto.  I remember when we had tamaladas with our cousins, there were so many we’d soak the hojas in a bathtub!

For hosting your own tamalada party, like most Latino & Mexican fiestas, you’ll  serve some food to share and depending on the time of day you host yours, perhaps cocktails and/or cafecito- this is also a great time to try making Ponche Navideno, I shared the recipe in my previous blog A Latino Thanksgiving.  Also, turn on some festive holiday music in the background (Pandora has great Navidad Latino stations) Some menu ideas for your tamalada, keep in mind your kitchen will be filled with tamales making ingredients, so keep it simple- guacamole & chips, mini burritos, rolled taquitos, and pan dulce (mexican pastries), finger food type stuff.
If it’s with small children, it’s fun to give them the job of soaking the corn husks, but really, everyone can participate in the spreading of the masa onto the corn husk.  Tamaladas require quite a bit of table space and non-carpeted areas so afterwards you can easily clean up the spilled masa pieces.  Based on the setup of your home, you can use counter tops, dining tables, and folding card tables, some people form an ‘assembly’ line where basically each person has a chore, and there can be more than one person per chore, for example: 1) Soak corn husks & make sure the hojas are all consistent size by tearing & cutting the hojas 2) Masa spreaders, this is the job that requires the most skill 3) Tamal filling & wrapping- wrapping the tamal gently but tightly also has it’s special knack.
Another way for settin up the tamalada is for each person to have a bowl of masa and filling in front of them to make their own tamales, this is especially a great way if you have a variety of filling choices so each person is responsible for a certain flavor, especially for this you will also need considerable amount of table top usage for this to spread out.  Have plenty of soup spoons or mini spatulas for your guests to experiment for the masa spreading, for this, there is no one perfect technique, some people use flat spatulas,  spoons, butter knives, some even use a masa spreader, whatever is easiest for each.  As for how much masa to spread onto each tamal, well, again, there is no exact measurement because it depends on the size of the hoja.  A couple of guidelines is to fill the corn husk no more than about 1/4 from the top, and the top is the narrower end of the corn husk.  The hoja has one smoother side and one rougher side, you want to spread the masa on the smoother side of the hoja.  Finally, the masa should be about 1/4″ thick, see some of these illustrations for reference.

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Masa expands when it cooks, just a slightly thick layer of masa is sufficent.
As the person wrapping the tamal finishes up, someone can help either placing the tamales in the tamalera (cooking pot) if you are going to cook them right away, or into freezable ziplock bags – if you do this, be sure to lay the tamales flat in the freezer, not piled up.  Cooking the tamales also has some important points to remember, it’s another determining factor on whether or not your tamales will be a soggy mess or perfectly assembled and beautiful tamal.
To cook the tamales, you’ll need a tamalera or some type of pot with a strainer & steam, fill the bottom of the pan with water, place tamales on the strainer open end face up, cover tightly low heat for about 1.5hrs.  A couple of tamales cooking tips passed down from tias (aunts) and my mama, place a coin at the bottom of the pan, if you hear the coin rattling it means you need to add more water, pour the water carefully down the sides, not over your tamales! And to know when your tamales are cooked? When you begin peeling back the hoja, masa does not stick to the corn husk.
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 If you decide to cook the tamales while guests are over, maybe have loteria game (Mexican bingo card game) to play together while they cook,and also stock up on baggies or disposable aluminum trays for everyone to take some home.  And, it’s a messy affair, so plan for some time to clean up the next day, you’ll be exhausted from your tamalada!
I am all about hands on involvement, it’s the best way to learn new things and to truly understand and appreciate others experiences.  Tamaladas really are an enjoyable experience, they are a lot of work too, but when you focus on the delicious delicacy you will enjoy and appreciate made with your own hands while enjoying time with special people, and making memories.  I really can’t think of another food that can be prepared party style?  I find this to be a beautiful food not only for it’s unique and clever swaddle of delicacy, the mere complex preparation of them is important.
Tamales is a food that is representative of Latinos, we are a united culture with strong family and community values, though our style of tamales varies, we share in common the ‘it takes a village’ mentality, and the same is true with making tamales. Sure, you can make tamales by yourself, but like life, you can lighten your burden and make it enjoyable with the support of others.
I started the tamalada classes through El Burrito Mercado as a way to offer a unique experience, La Experiencia Mexicana to our customers, and it’s probably the richest, Mexican food related experience one might have.  We offer two every year around this time of year and we sell out each year, we just had our first tamalada for this year a couple weeks ago, and it really truly is a special experience not just for our customers, but for myself too.  My parents are now retired, but we were able to convince my mother to teach the class. Her down to earth, practical, and very ‘mama’ style of teaching, makes it so special for our customers, and for myself, I learn something new every time she teaches, it’s an endearing, memorable experience. Our second tamalada is also sold out, we plan to host more classes & experiences in 2016 with the expansion of our El Cafe Restaurant y Bar.
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Wishing you happy tamalada celebrations! El Burrito Mercado is your one stop tamalada stop!
Please contact me if I can be of assistance in planning your tamalada, milissa@elburritomercado.com
Hasta pronto,
Milissa

A Latino Thanksgiving Fiesta

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When it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving, we all have our own ideas of a traditional meal. Most non-Latino families will be celebrating the holiday with a buttered turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and a classic stuffing, but let’s make your table come alive with color, ambiance, energy, and sazon!

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For Latinos, there are a few not-so-typical dishes. I feel lucky because I get the best of my favorites, comforting good ‘ol American Thanksgiving meal and a feast of Mexican delights! You’ll still celebrate with the spirit of family, friends, and gratitude, but for Latinos, it’s more than just a meal, it’s more like a Thanksgiving Fiesta.
Let’s start planning! For starters, dress up, this is not just a casual get together, this a Latino party, so ladies, get out the heels and lipstick, and fellas, cologne and a dress shirt please! And, don’t plan to eat at 2pm, our parties start late, and run into the night.
DECOR I love the the orange, yellow, and brown color theme! And the decor is fine, but how about adding some platters, plates, or serving bowls that fits right in with the color scheme. Clay dishes (barro) would add a touch of Mexico to your table decor- I would use bright colored cloth napkins too like yellow, orange and red!

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ENTERTAINMENT Yep, we love to party! So Thanksgiving for many Latino families rarely is it just ‘gather around the table’ kind of get together. For many families it varies, music is playing in the background, tios (uncles) may be playing instruments (guitar, congas, maracas), or perhaps playing a game of domino (especially common in the Puerto Rican familias). For you amigos, I recommend some nice bachata or balada music in the background for as guests arrive, (on Pandora try Prince Royce) then later, after dinner, put on some salsa or cumbia music (Marc Anthony is my favorite), clear the tables and get to dancing! For family fun, get a game of Loteria going, Mexican bingo, plan ahead with funny and simple prizes- use dry pinto beans or black beans as your card markers.   Oh, and of course, leave the TV on the football channel, muted so as not to kill the fiesta!

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BEVERAGES & COCKTAILS For the kiddos, get a variety of Jarritos soda flavors or Goya fruit juices. Wine is fine, and cerveza too, though sipping on tequila as guests arrive is known to open an appetite (and help with digestion after a meal). For Mexicanos, Ponche Navideno is a must and for our carribean amigos, it’s Coquito. Below is a recipe for Ponche Navideno, give it a kick with a bit of tequila or brandy. Coquito, well, that may take a few tries to master its recipe, it’s an egg nog like consistency and it’s a tasty blend of cinnamon, coconut, and rum ingredients! (if you are as lucky as I am, you’ll have friends that will make you a bottle or bring one to share!).

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Ponche Navideno, hot fruit punch, spike it tequila or brandy
Coquito
Try our Coquito in El Cafe Restaurant y Bar!
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Jarritos Sodas, add a flavorful and colorful touch.

THE MENU There are so many different ways you can change up your menu, here are my favorites:
Roasted Jalapeno Salsa
Tamales
Frijoles Rancheros (ranch style pinto beans)
Ham or Seasoned Pork Leg (Jamon o Pierna de Pernil)

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Pernil Asado
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Frijoles

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Other common Mexican foods for special celebrations is pozole and enchiladas, and of course, traditional mole sauce on turkey and make turkey mole enchiladas for next day.

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Flan

And for dessert, traditional or pumpkin flavored flan, tres leches cake, and my favorite sweet potato with a sweet marshmallow & piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) topping.
And of course, the absolute most important thing about Thanksgiving, be grateful for the company present, and the many blessings from above! And for many ways to make your Thanksgiving special, visit our specialty Mexican deli at El Burrito Mercado!

Happy Thanksgiving amigos, eat, dance, drink and be happy!
Con Amor, Milissa

Ponche navideno

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Goya Ponche, frozen

 

Celebrate Life, Dia de los Muertos

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I am so touched by the stories that customers have shared, some bring their children for a cultural and educational experience. And for others, it’s to teach their children another way to cope, in particular for one father, bringing his son helped him grieve the loss of his grandfather, and now it’s a tradition that the child looks forward to adding items every year to the ofrenda! It’s a beautiful and artistic way to celebrate the life of a loved one that has passed.

This 3minute video depicts a beautiful &touching dia de los muertos summary: http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/our-issues/dia-de-los-muertos-short-film

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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 in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

The departed children, los angelitos, are remembered on November first while November second focuses on the departed adults. There is nothing somber or macabre about the event. 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.

The United States tradition of All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, came from an ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival of fire, known as Samhain. This popular celebration originated in England, Scotland and Wales. October 31st was an important day to the Celts, and among other things was dedicated to the end of the harvest. It was said that during Samhain banshees and witches were known to steal children, destroy crops, and bring terror to the entire population. At the same time, the spirits of loved ones visited their families looking for warmth and affection. Bonfires were built to help guide the spirits home. In Europe, around 750 AD, the Church instituted November first as All Saints Day realizing that it must eliminate or assimilate pagan rites. In the 13th century, All Souls Day was established on November 2 honoring those souls of the Catholic faith who had passed away. In Medieval times, traditions included decorating graves, all night vigils, and special church services to remember and honor the dead. These traditions were prevalent throughout Europe, and the Spanish conquistadores, colonists and priests, who came to the Americas brought these customs with them. REFERENCE

Long before the Spanish arrived in America, the belief in an afterlife was present in Mesoamerica. We know this from information contained in the archeological record, the surviving codices, and from early Colonial manuscripts. According to the beliefs of the Nahua people (Aztecas, Chichimecas, Tlaxcaltecas, and Toltecas) life was seen as a dream. Only in dying did a human being truly awake. For them the distinction between life and death was not so absolute. In Nahautl, the indigenous language of the peoples of the valley of Mexico, there is much poetic speculation concerning the afterlife.

How to celebrate?
There are several components to building the ‘ofrenda’ offering to the deceased. Often in Mexico and Latin America, still today the family will visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried and bring them offerings. The main offerings given across the board, rich or poor, are the 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.  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 (even paper marigolds) can be found at El Burrito Mercado, every year we build an ofrenda and keep it on display through mid November. We hope you will consider building your own ofrenda and partake in this colorful celebration of life!

Looking for Dia de los Muertos events?
Saturday Oct. 24th Community Event at Wellstone Center (located behind our parking)
Sunday Oct. 25th, Dia de los Muertos Celebrations Minnesota History Center I will be presenting Botanas Mexicanas (Mexican Snacks)!)
Sunday Nov. 1 Mariachi Estrella 2-4pm, and 1:30pm for decorating fun, check out our ofrenda, shop, eat, explore the one stop shop for Dia de los Muertos! www.mnhs.org/event/502

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Milissa

Celebrate a Little Piece of Mexico in Minnesota

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Thanks to particular individuals in the media (whose name does not deserved to be mentioned), I know I am not alone when I express that I have never felt more proud of my heritage roots, more motivated to grow our business, and more driven to inspire others to practice their right to vote! Celebrating our heritage has never felt so good! (for that many of us thank you, you awoke the sleeping giants in us!)

Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.  Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community. www.hispanicheritagemonth.org

Specifically in Mexico’s Independence is celebrated on September 16, and on this date in 1810, a progressive priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla became the father of Mexican independence with a historic proclamation urging his fellow Mexicans to take up arms against the Spanish government. Known as the “Grito de Dolores” (the shouts of Hidalgo) Hidalgo’s declaration launched a decade-long struggle that ended 300 years of colonial rule, established an independent Mexico and helped cultivate a unique Mexican identity.  The Grito de Dolores is a tradition repeated every 16th of September at midnight, the President of Mexico recites it, Mexican consulates all over the world recite it, in small ranches in Mexico to the big cities here in USA, we recite it.  It is the the shouts that any and every Mexican gets the goosebumps as we all respond to his shouts in a loud, powerful, and enthusiastic “VIVA MEXICO”, here is a video that reenacts the Grito The Mexican anthem is traditionally sang after the Grito,

All over Mexico and many generations of Mexicanos in the USA celebrate Mexican Independence (not cinco de mayo), with festivals, fireworks, concerts, Mariachi, dances, folklore, food, and cultural demonstrations.   It’s a beautiful thing that our traditions continue here in the US, something I am very proud of, and every year the awareness and celebrations seem to increase.

According to the US Census Bureau 2014 estimated Hispanic population was 5,547,173. Today, according to the latest Census data, the Hispanic population in the United States totals 54 million, making it the largest ethnic or racial minority in the nation. Within the US Hispanic population, 64 percent of Hispanics are of Mexican descent followed by Puerto Ricans at 9.4 percent, Salvadorans at 3.8 percent, Cubans at 3.7 percent, Dominicans at 3.1 percent and Guatemalans at 2.3 percent.   The presence of the Hispanic population is evident in many ways, the influences are undisputable in the mainstream supermarkets Hispanic or ethnic aisles,  music influences, and especially impressive are the Latino owned business, check out these numbers:

There are more than 3 million Latino-owned businesses in the U.S., a number up more than 40 percent since 2007, according to a Hispanics in Business 2014 study, released by Geoscape and published in partnership with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Financial experts say Hispanics are starting businesses at three times the national rate, fueling the economy, empowering Hispanic families and all while changing main street USA.

Never before, analysts say, has the success of America’s small businesses been so dependent on the success of Hispanic families. http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/money/2015/02/19/us-economy-being-fueled-by-success-hispanic-owned-business/

Clearly, there is much to celebrate! All over the country there are Hispanic Heritage celebrations, Twin Cities included.  Whether or not you are Latino, surely, in some way, if you live in the USA, your life is touched in some way by us, so celebrate with us!

Here are some activities around the Twin Cities:

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El Burrito Mercado Silva Concession’s will have a food booth at Monarch Festival this Saturday, Sept 12 and at the Festival en la Lake on Sunday, September 13.  Also, at El Burrito Mercado this Sunday, Sept. 12 Mariachi Estrella from 12pm-3pm, and on Tuesday, September 15, 5-7pm samplings from our the deli, free cookies for the kids, elotes(roasted corn) and other specials throughout!

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Our specials throughout the month of September!

El Burrito Mercado is a little piece of Mexico in Minnesota, there is so much to experience, the cheery music, aromas of our talented cooks, vibrant colors of our Mexican imported arts and gifts, grocery, fresh produce, full service traditional butcher shop, fresh bakery and pastries, restaurant with authentic foods, a bar with refreshing margaritas and cervezas, and a hard working team that is pleased to serve you, come celebrate with us!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp9v2JhZr98 El Burrito Mercado video

We look forward to celebrating with you, I’m an avid believer that people will better embrace diversity through cultural experiences, when we break stereotypes and learn about the traditions, foods, and values of our cultures, we build familiarity, and all of the sudden, people aren’t are no longer afraid of eachother. I am witness to this through many personal experiences, food brings people together, and it can bring people closer.  If you are planning a fiesta at home, school, club, or for the workplace, we can help you plan it whether you contract our catering services or do it yourself, I am happy and willing to help, email me your questions milissa@elburritomercado.com

Viva Mexico! Viva Latino America! Viva Centro America! Viva Minnesota! Viva United States of America, and Viva El Burrito Mercado!

With love,

Milissa

Navidad Traditions & Celebrations

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Mexicanos, and Latinos, enjoy Christmas with great zeal and enthusiasm. There is a big difference between the celebrations of Christmas that are observed throughout the world and the festivities in Mexico.  Christmas celebrations in Mexico start from December 3rd and continue till February 2nd.
A series of religious customs, and rituals are followed as part of Christmas celebration. Firstly, the celebration is marked with the ceremony of the Virgin de Guadalupe celebrated Dec 3-12, a novena (praying for nine days).

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Celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe is on December 12. 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 an national holiday in 1859. http://www.mexonline.com/virginofguadalupe.html
Here in Minnesota faithful and devout Mexicanos y Latinos also celebrate with mariachi, processions, reenactments, danzantes, prayer, roses, candles, and food. Even if you are not a believer, it’s a heartwarming experience, it’s an overwhelming feeling of love and faith that transcends from all of the believers. Hundreds and hundreds of people visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Church located at 401 Concord Street, St. Paul, MN starting from 10pm on December 11 through midnight on December 12, a beautiful display of roses and candles as the hundred of people bring la Virgen fresh roses.  One of my favorite and endearing tradition of celebrating La Virgen de Guadalupe is the implementation of the main character of the Virgen Guadalupe’s story, Juan Diego, the peasant to whom it is believed she miraculously appeared to in the wintery mountains with roses, young children are dressed up as Juan Diego:

Child dressed as Juan Diego
Child dressed as Juan Diego

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After December 12, begins the ritual of Posadas and Pastorelas, which starts from December 16th and lasts nine days, also known as a ‘novena’, and continues till the 24th of December. The Posada is the re-enactment of the journey of Mary (on a donkey) and Joseph looking for a “room at the inn.” In Mexico, families, churches, friends, and neighbors, go from door to door in neighborhoods knocking on doors seeking an inn for the fatigued couple Jose and the expecting woman, Maria. Here in the states, many have modified the custom to take place within churches or at each others homes.

Posada
Posada
Posada Peregrinos
Posada Peregrinos

“Pastorelas are plays that recreate the biblical passage where the shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the Christ Child. In order to reach the birth place of the Redeemer, they have to experience a series of changes in fortune and confront the Devil, who will do everything possible to prevent them from completing their mission. It is at that moment that the  Archangel Michael intervenes to defend the shepherds  on their journey”. http://www.inside-mexico.com/pastorelas.htm

On the 24th, aka, Noche Buena, http://www.latinpost.com/articles/4672/20131211/nochebuena-celebrations-december-24th-latino-american-households.htm the Christmas celebration begins, it’s when Maria y Jose finally find an inn and they are welcomed into the home.  On the 24th, the baby Jesus “El Nino Dios” is laid in the manger, but not before first singing him a special lullaby, “Arrullo al Nino Dios” the song is here, typically at the end of the posada, the baby Jesus figurine is cradled in a blanket and rocked back and forth while the posada participants sing the lullaby, then he is dressed in beautiful special clothing, and then placed in the manger.

Nino Dios being cradled in a blanket
Nino Dios being cradled in a blanket
Special 'vestimiento' dressing for baby Jesus
Special ‘vestimiento’ dressing for baby Jesus

Typically, in Mexico and most latino countries, it begins at midnight on the 24th, after La Misa de Gallo (midnight mass) commences the feast of foods, gifts, singing, and dancing, and sometimes even pinatas are included in the celebrations.

La Pinata, Diego Rivera
La Pinata, Diego Rivera

Whether you celebrate the religious Christmas tradition, majority participate at some level of the holiday celebrations. For some it may be the gift giving, the parties, and/or the food. And no doubt as with all Mexican celebrations, we have special traditional food that is specific to this holiday too.

THE NAVIDENA FOOD
The most typical foods and beverages for Christmas are:

Bunuelos(a fried flour tortilla type dessert covered with cinnamon & sugar and a special sweet honey)

BUNUELOS
BUNUELOS

Pernil(seasoned pork leg)

Tamales, the most traditional Christmas food, as mentioned in my previous blog, is a process best done in parts and divided into a 2-3day process. The mole making, the masa making, the meat cooking, and then the assembly & tamales cooking, rarely can one do all the work involved into one day.  Because of the labor intense process of making tamales, the mole and masa are done in advance and then assembled often times the 24th during the day, then steam cooked in the evening so that they can be enjoyed that night during the celebration.  At El Burrito Mercado the most popular tamales flavor is the pork in red sauce, but at this time of year we also make a variety of flavors including the popular tamales dulces either of sweet corn or pineapple & coconut.

Tamales Variety
Tamales Variety
Hallaca Venezolana
Hallaca Venezolana

Mole, a unique ‘gravy’ like consistency made with more than 13 spices & chile combination, it too is another time consuming food to create thus made on special occasions such as Christmas and New Years Eve.

Mole with Chicken
Mole with Chicken

Pozole, a tasty pork, chicken, hominy soup most traditional with a red chile broth, but also made in a clear broth or green pozole. While probably one of the simplest foods to make, also one of the tastiest!

Pozole Rojo
Pozole Rojo

Romeritos in Revoltijo (green herbs in a special sauce),and bacalao (cod fish dish) and ponche navideno (a fruity hot punch) and atole(a hot, thick, flavored corn starch beverage).

Ponche Navideno, hot fruit punch
Ponche Navideno, hot fruit punch

At El Burrito Mercado, we are one of the only mercados in Minnesota to offer the most variety for Mexican and Latino holiday foods as well as items such as the nacimientos, Juan Diego clothing for children, and the ‘vestimiento’ for baby Jesus. In addition, all of the traditional foods mentioned above plus much more, can be special ordered from our deli/catering, and the ingredients are available for purchase to prepare from scratch at home.
My personal Christmas experiences include growing up with the posadas and tamalada. I now enjoy these traditions with my immediate family as well, it’s important for me that my daughters understand and I hope embrace their cultural traditions.  I love setting up our nacimeinto (nativity display), hosting a small posada with my family at my home, and plan a mini tamalada  with my family and close friends, and of course eating all the traditional holiday foods from El Burrito Mercado!

ARTESANIA NACIMENTO ARTESANIA NACIMENTO
This holiday season I wish for you many blessings, joy, and peace. Feliz Navidad!
Milissa Silva-Diaz

FElIZ NAVIDAD!
FElIZ NAVIDAD!