Mexican Food

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!

Cecina, the other carne asada

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I recently overheard an elderly couple in El Burrito Mercado standing in front of the counter in the carniceria (meat shop), both very entertained and with big smiles as they observed the fast, skilled carnicero (butcher)   slicing cecina.  They were curious what it was, so I approached them and gave them a brief explanation, they excitedly bought some.  This is not an unusual scenario at our place, and I embrace each of those opportunities to share about our foods with adventurous people like this.   Maybe you too are curious to try something new, not to ‘out there’, and easy, so I’ll elaborate a bit with you on what I shared with them regarding cecina.

Cecina is thinly sliced, salted and partially dried sheets or strips of beef or pork. The technique of making it requires an extremely sharp knife, considerable skill, and patience. A large piece of boneless beef is lightly folded into a continuous roll of thin slices by deft cutting, back and forth, within the mass of muscle. Not every carniceria has cecina, especially this far north  it’s quite challenging for Mexican meat shops to have experienced carniceros, so we feel pretty lucky that we have a couple of the best carniceros (specialty butchers)and are always stocked!

In Mexico, Spain, and Latin America, after cecina is sliced, it is salted and dried by means of air, sun or smoke, or stored, depending on the region.  And here in the USA, due to health regulations, the beef is stored in controlled refrigerated temperatures.

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Experienced hands thinly slice the beef, it takes patience and skill.
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The thin slices are folded into a roll after it’s lightly salted and rubbed with oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our experienced carniceros at El Burrito Mercado, we are so pleased to have some of the best from around the Twin Cities.  It’s sold by the pound.

Many of our customers are unfamilar with a lot of the specialties we offer in our carniceria. And because cecina requires special skills, it’s probably one the most unique meats a-typical to American butcher shops.  In Mexico, it’s the meat you’ll sometimes see in the carnicerias hanging to dry or laying out to dry in the sun, and it’s eaten like beef jerky, or used in cooking.  When it’s cooked, like when purchased from our carniceria, it’s most typically either grilled or pan cooked.

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Cecina
In Spain, cecina is enjoyed as a delicacy.
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In Mexico, cecina is cooked and prepared in a variety of ways or served as a main entree

I personally love that it cooks quickly, no seasoning needed, and it can be enjoyed in a variety of Mexican favorites such as tacos, tortas, and commonly served with chilaquiles for breakfast. In Mexico there is a breakfast dish known as Aporreadillo (aka machaca in most areas), it’s the shredded cooked cecina scrambled with eggs, onion, and peppers. These options are served for breakfast at El Burrito Mercado’s El Cafe Restaurant!

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Aporreadillo without salsa- machaca

 

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Aporreadillo with salsa

(Note: Carne asada is a general term used for ‘grilled meats’, however most commonly people inadvertently reference only beef  (like ribeye) as carne asada.  However, cecina, pork, or even chicken can all be lumped into the general term ‘carne asada’, the most accurate way is to reference a meat as “carne para asar”, so for example, cecina is a carne para asar, “a meat to be grilled”.  Cecina is very commonly used for carne asadas, however to eat it in a taco it needs to be chopped after cooking, it’s texture makes it tough to bite from a taco in a whole piece.)

Next time you are in our mercado and if you are unfamiliar with cecina definitely give it a try, it’s the #1 thing I recommend to anyone that is unfamiliar with our meats and want to try something different but easy to cook.  It’s simple, basic, and so enjoyable! If you’re lucky, like the elderly couple I met, you’ll catch a carnicero at work slicing cecina.

Milissa

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

Hearty, Delicious, Comforting Mexican Foods for the Fall

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I think Mexican food is the best comfort food especially for cold weather, it’s tasty, hearty and the spiciness not only adds flavor, it feels good especially on a chilly day.

Spicy food is proven to boost your metabolism thus, literally heating you up! Many salsas and sauces help heat us up because of the capsaicin found in peppers, capsaicin is an active chemical compound component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum.  It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.

One can measure the spiciness of peppers the brave, riskier, and much more macho method and actually taste test the peppers.  Or, you can use the ever so clever Scoville Scale as a guide.

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What’s the big deal with the spice? Well, spicy foods is proven to boost your metabolism, so you get a double whammy benefit, warm up and burn calories!!  And for spicy ethnic food lovers, we’ll agree that spice makes bland food better, turn a plain ol baked potato into a taste bud delight, roast some peppers, chop them up, top the papa with sour cream, the peppers, and cheese, or, mix a spicy salsa into the sour cream before topping.  One of my favorite ways to spice up food? A sprinkle of a few freshly chopped serranos (yea, my level on the Scoville chart maxes at about the middle), into rice, beans, eggs, pasta, and salads, and sometimes, it’s just a sprinkle of good ol tabasco sauce on eggs or pizza, or Salsa Valentina on potato chips & popcorn.

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Drizzle Salsa Valentina, Tapatio, or Salsa Bufalo with a squeeze of fresh lime juice onto your favorite chip snack or popcorn!

Mexican foods are are hearty, filling, and can be spicy, but not all Mexican food is spicy.  From stews, cheesy chile rellenos or enchiladas, to tasty hearty soups, the options for Mexican dinner night at home can convert to nightly Mexican dinners!  Below are a couple of my favorite comfort Mexican foods and links to some excellent recipes.

ENCHILADAS ROJAS, (and I must mention the bragging rights of our enchiladas rojas to our winning status in City Pages 2010 friendly ‘street food smack down) For this recipe, I recommend our ready to use Enchilada Sauce available by the jar in our deli., and the simple recipe to make these with our sauce, all ingredients available at El Burrito Mercado:

Heat up some oil in a fry pan, heat up oven to 350degrees

1dz corn tortillas (we prefer Sabinas brand for this)

2cups of your favorite shredded cheese (we prefer Supremo Queso Chihuaha or shredded chicken- or mix them together)

1 jar of El Burrito Mercado Salsa para Enchiladas

Toppings of choice, we recommend: Supremo Queso Fresco, shredded cabbage or lettuce, and Cacique Crema Mexicana.

Step 1: Place the tortilla in hot oil (use tongs), for a few seconds on each side, just until tortilla is pliable, place on a plate with paper towel to drain.

Step 2: Pour sauce into a fry pan, simmer low.

Step 3: Grab drained tortilla, dip into the salsa, place onto baking pan.

Step 4: In the baking pan, grab the cooked tortilla, add about a tablespoon of the salsa to center of the tortilla, add about 2tbsp of filling, roll tightly, place along the inside of edge of the baking pan, repeat with all the tortillas.

Step 5: Pour half of remaining sauce & spread sauce evenly over the enchiladas (leave some extra), place in oven for about 20min.

Remove from oven. Serve onto plate, add more sauce, crumble queso fresco on top, garnish with crema and lettuce. Want to make your own salsa roja? Try this recipe: http://thelatinkitchen.com/r/recipe/red-enchiladas-chile-guajillo-sauce-enchiladas-rojas-de-chile-guajillo

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POZOLE ROJO

My favorite soup- really any time of the year, Caldo de Pozole Rojo or Verde (red or green pozole) Pozole soup is made with pork shoulder or shanks, red chiles, and lots of hominy corn. (Pozole is actually hominy, hominy is dried maize kernels, when used in cooking, it goes through an alkali process, known as nixtamalization, loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the kernels. The process can cause the kernels to double in size, sometimes the lime is replaced with lye or wood ash for processing.)  Traditionally pozole is made for special occasions (and actually in my family it still is a tradition) but it’s a fairly common soup that you will find on many Mexican restaurant menus, including ours, but only on Fridays because we have other exquisite soups every other day of the week like Caldo de Albondigas (a meatball & rice soup), Caldo Tlapeno (the supreme chicken soup), and Menudo amongst others.

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Pozole Rojo
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Caldo Tlapeno, chicken, vegetables, topped with fried tortilla strips, avocado, chipotle, and queso cotija

Funny story, when I was first married, I wanted to impress my husband with an authentic traditional Mexican meal (mind you he comes from a family of EXCELLENT cooks on all Mexican foods) And, we lived in California at the time, so my mom was no where near me to help. So, I took on the challenge to make him pozole rojo (it’s actually a very simple soup to make), I made a 4qrt pot of what ended up as huge pot of water, tough meat, and seeds from the peppers floating everywhere- it was a disaster! None the less, my darling hubby gave it a try and smiled, and asked me “did you forget to remove the seeds and strain the sauce?” I almost cried I was so embarrassed, but he praised my efforts and we tossed the huge pot of pozole.  Since then, I have learned to make a decent pozole, (and now know to remove the seeds from the peppers and strain the sauce into the soup) I still prefer my in-laws pozole the best! (they add pork feet which gives it a flavor I LOVE!)  Try this recipe from Mexico in my Kitchen, I’ve reviewed Mely’s recipes and they are very authentic, I recommend following her for other delicious recipes and  you can find the ingredients at El Burrito Mercado.  http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/2010/09/how-to-make-pozole-como-hacer-pozole.html

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Tamales, we sell a variety of tamales in our deli!

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TAMALES (a mesoamerican dish made of corn dough spread onto a leaf or corn husk, filled with a variety of meats & sauces, steam cooked)

And the mother of all cold weather Mexican food, TAMALES! In Mexico, in the early cold winter mornings, you will encounter little crowds of people gathered at street corner buying tamales & atole (hot corn- and masa-based beverage of Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, and El Salvadoran origin) from street vendors.  Another experiencia mexicana that El Burrito Mercado offers you from Mexico, tamales and atole as a daily breakfast special, we are open daily at 7am with hot, authentic Mexican breakfasts and bakery variety.  Here are a couple recipes for making atole, as for the tamales, I recommend you grab a siz pack or dozen (and freezeable) from our deli to heat and eat at home. Tamales are a very time consuming process, but, if want to try it from scratch, try Mely’s recipes and mark your calendar to join us on December 6 for our Tamalada class (details to follow).   And, for a simple and still fun way to make tamales, we cut the labor in half for you, this holiday season, just come buy the ready to use ingredients from our grab n go deli ready to assemble and freeze or cook, corn husks, masa (corn dough), filling, and the special pot to cook them in.

GUISADOS (stews based from variation peppers cooked with pork, beef, or chicken)

Guisados are good year round, but like any stew, especially in the cold weather, a steamy, spicy guisado hits the spot every time. This time of year we especially like to make guisados with corn, zucchini, and chayote (a green pear-shaped tropical fruit that resembles cucumber in flavor). Guisados are available in our grab n go deli, and in case you didn’t know, this is what we are most known for in our El Cafe Restaurant y Bar, we offer a steam table filled with at least six variety of from scratch, homemade guisados! This fall when you visit us, be sure to try one of our daily specials inspired with fall ingredients in mind, and extra spice to heat you up!

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Pork in Chipotle & Cactus, a perfect blend for a cold day! Smoky, and spicy

This season, venture into the hearty and tasty flavors of Mexico, and add peppers or hot sauces to your everyday foods for some heat! Visit our grab n go deli for convenient guisados (stews) and explore the many unique ingredients in our mercado for inspiration and ideas to create your own experiencias at home.

Feliz Fall!

Milissa

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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

Mexicanized Summer Picnics

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Nothing says summer more than here at El Burrito Mercado with our outdoor elotes(corn) stand and taco patio! Our roasted corn machines are staple to our business, our fathers first business experience was selling corn on the streets from a push cart in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. And now, he owns three corn roasting machines which service our business every weekend and crowds have also come to enjoy our elotes (and other Mexican foods) at festivals like Cinco de Mayo Grand Ol Days Soundset and many more!

Mexican street corn is prepared with sour cream, queso cotija (parmesan like cheese), and sprinkled with a spicy chile powder.

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Elote

And every weekend on the taco patio we offer tacos with meat choices from our butcher shop homemade chorizo, carne asada, tripa (beef or pork tripe), and the most popular of street tacos Tacos al Pastor from the trompo (seasoned pork trump).

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Trompo de Carne al Pastor

In addition to the tasty outside street foods, we also offer inside the mercado a Botana(snack) Bar with popular snacks like Chamango, (blend of mango, chamoy sauce, spicy sauce), esquite (steamed corn kernels prepared with lime, cheese, chile powder) pina loca and several other unique and refreshing Mexican snacks.

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Chamango
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Pina Loca

These are just a few of the traditional foods we offer at the mercado, there is also an extensive variety of produce, meats, and deli items to create your own “Mexicanized” summer foods.

Here are some ideas for your home picnics:

CARNICERIA(Butcher Shop):

Homemade chorizos: just place on the grill and cook like a brat, when cooked through, slice and make tacos, you can even heat the tortillas right on the grill! Garnish with lime, cilantro, avocado slices.

Put a griddle on the grill and sizzle some pre-seasoned fajitas, asada(beef), or pastor(seaoned pork), when cooked make tacos!

PRODUCE:

Chiles: Slice open on one side any variety of the peppers (my favorites are chile guero and jalapenos) stuff with cheese and wrap in foil, place on the grill- delicious with the tacos! Or, just place peppers on grill and garnish tacos or salads.

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Chiles filled with Cheese- eat alone or in a tortilla!

Nopal: Fresh cactus, carefully hold from the thicker end, with a knife scrape the needles safely into a container or trash, wash well, and place right on the griddle, lightly salt, when toasty and the cooked through, removed and slice up- also a great vegetarian taco option!

Nopales & Chiles
Nopales and Chiles

Frutas Frescas (fruits): a most common snack/dessert for Mexicanos is fresh fruits, a plate of fresh cut fruits is commonly seasoned with either a spicy chile powder (most popular brand is Tajin) or drizzled with honey, yogurt, and dry coconut.

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Pre-packaged fruits with Tajin

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A customer favorite at festivals we participate is Mango on a Stick, this year new to Grand Ol Days will be Chamango on a Stick!

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BEBIDAS (beverages):

You can even Mexicanize your picnics with a variety of unique beverages! Agua de Jamaica is delicious and refreshing, sweetened hibiscus tea, Jarritos sodas is always fun with so many fun soda flavors like Tamarind, Mango, Mandarin, Pineapple, etc (Use the grapefruit flavored soda for delicious “Paloma”- ice, tequila, 1freshly squeezed lime juice, and grapefruit Jarritos soda!)

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Jarritos Sodas

Aguas de fruta (flavored waters with fresh fruits) is also very typical, Agua de Sandia or Guava are my favorites! Blend 1/2 water, 1/2 fruit, ice and sweeten to taste. (Rim the glass with chile Tajin powder for a little spicy kick to your beverage!)

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Watermelon with Tajin

Every season there are delicious ways to Mexicanize your foods, summer is all about being outside and enjoying ‘carne asadas (aka cookouts/picnics). Mexican cuisine offers a variety of simple and tasty options, and El Burrito Mercado is the best place in Minnesota to explore and experience la experiencia mexicana.  We also offer catering options in which we bring the experience to your special celebration, the most popular is our Taquiza (taco cook out), contact me directly for meal ideas, shopping assistance, or to schedule your catering event.  milissa@elburritomercado.com

Enjoy, and feliz verano (happy summer)!

Milissa

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Faith and Food, Mexican Lenten Foods

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Today is Ash Wednesday.

Lent (Latin: Quadragesima – English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Christians in the Anglican, Calvinist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent

Whether you are Catholic or not, in some way you encounter the traditions, religious practices, and of course the food. With the Friday fish fry, enchilada dinners, and chain restaurant fish sandwich specials galore, inevitably you’ll participate in some way.  And for Latino Catholics, Lent is a serious occasion, starting during Carnaval, which ended last night.

In Mexico, many cities have Carnaval celebration of various sizes, but the biggest events take place in the port cities, with the largest of all in Mazatlan. Mazatlan’s Carnaval is said to attract well over 300,000 people, making it the third largest such event behind Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. Port towns such as Cozumel, Ensenada, La Paz and Veracruz are also excellent places to watch Carnaval festivities.

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The festival of Carnaval is celebrated as a last indulgence of ‘carnal’ pleasures that Catholics are requested to give up for 40 days of fasting during Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

In fact, the word Carnaval is derived from Latin, meaning take away or goodbye to flesh, and strict Catholics will give up meat eating during Lent. http://www.mexonline.com/carnaval.htm

And today on Ash Wednesday, Catholics all over the world go to church to receive ashes to publicly proclaim our intent to die to our worldly desires and live even more in Christ’s image, which we focus on during the season of ‘rebirth’ that is Lent (a Latin term for ‘Spring’).

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My parents raised our family strict Catholics practicing and acknowledging all traditional and religious fundamentals of the various holy holidays including, and especially during lent. I recall they disconnected the TV a few years during lent as our family sacrifice, and during holy week, you could be sure to find the Silva family in church Wednesday through Sunday.   The church we always attended was Our Lady of Guadalupe, and over the years as the Latino demographic has expanded, so have the Spanish services and and traditions. One of the fairly newer traditions practiced now through Our Lady of Guadalupe church is one that is commonly performed through Mexico and Latin America, the re-enactment of Jesus carrying the cross.  Often times varying from each church is either a group of men carrying the cross on a stand as in this image or they’ll take turns carrying the cross as Jesus did.

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Although the idea is to sacrifice a ‘carnal’ pleasure during lent, ironically there are favorite traditional lenten foods I look forward to every lent!  My family has integrated the traditional ingredients and foods during lent at our family business El Burrito Mercado.  el-burrito-mercado

In our restaurant and deli you will find prepared traditional Mexican lenten foods such as capirotada which is a unique bread pudding made with toasted bread, tortilla, raisins, coconut, nuts, piloncillo, & canela(cinnamon), there are various versions.

Capirotada
Capirotada
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Enchiladas de Mole o Chile Rojo
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Tortas de Camaron con Nopalitos
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Chile Relleno, cheese

Other traditional foods are Tortas de Camaron en Mole y Nopalitos. (shrimp fritters in red sauce and cactus and/or herbs).

Enchiladas of cheese or potato, chile relleno (cheese stuffed chile peppers), a variety of shrimp in stews or salads, and a variety of beans like lentil soup or pinto beans.

In our mercado (marketplace) you’ll find all the ingredients to cook at home like camaron seco (dried shrimp) for the shrimp fritters, bacalao,(salted cod), shrimp, pan seco (toasted bread) for capirotada, yucca (roots), plantain, and many more unique ingredients.

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There are only two holidays El Burrito Mercado closes for during the year, and those are Christmas, and Easter.   Plan ahead and either order specialty foods from our catering menu for your Easter dinner or shop our market for all your lenten and Easter ingredients.   Whatever you do, don’t give up Mexican food for lent, you’d miss out on some of the most delicious lenten delights!

Happy Fasting.

Milissa

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