mexican latino

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!


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.

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.

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:


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!

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! 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

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

With love,


Tamales Making Fun!

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Here are a few promo spots for our tamalada! Watch for my “Tis Tamales Season” blog!
Here is Em’s Adventures from TC Live:
Jason deRusha:

Tamalada Registration link:



Kids Tamalada Fun!
Kids Tamalada Fun!

35Years of Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

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It’s been a while since my last post, this summer was busy with my daughters and the business, we are celebrating our 35th anniversary at El Burrito Mercado and it’s been a great year so far!

The timing is appropriate for an update as we are in midst of Hispanic Heritage Month.  When this time of year comes around it never fails that I question, why are we recognizing Hispanic contributions this one time of year?  And inevitably, I begin to think about the politics that are associated with the holiday,(the initiating of this holiday was politically driven after all).  And mostly I find that I am interested in learning about the demographic changes in the ‘browning of America’, and I discover this kind of strange, mixed feelings of shock, happiness, then pure excitement!!! On the fast growing Hispanic population:

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.[1]  Within the 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.[2]

This is especially exciting for me and my family when we think about how few Hispanics there were in the twin cities when El Burrito opened in 1979! It’s thrilling both as Mexicans ourselves to have a community and of course for our business, it’s been a blessing.  There is an overwhelming feeling of joy and pride that my parents too were just trying to live the ‘american dream’ as so many immigrants do.  In spite of the growth, and many changes, as a state and a nation, there are so many injustices.  There is a part of me that is called to raise my voice and take action and contribute to changes in laws and policy that impact the immigration and Hispanic business community.  It can be overwhelming, and I think I’ve finally found a balance in which I can remain active, yet do what I feel impacts positively.  I have found that by continuing to strive for our business, and to educate about our culture, build bridges, increase cultural awareness, and breakdown stereotypes, that I am also attributing to the end goal simply by staying active, caring, and sharing.

It feels great to work in a place where people feel that they are somewhere else, it’s so rewarding to hear customers comment on how much they missed their homeland products. For many years, we have been offering brands that are also now an integral part of the booming economy of which Hispanics have so abundantly attributed.  El Burrito Mercado (EBM)is celebrating 35years and to me, it is a testament of the growth and contribution to Minnesota’s Hispanic business developments.  EBM was pioneer introducing brands to Minnesota such as Goya Foods, a wonderful company that from its’ humble beginnings now is known world wide for it’s range of products for Mexican and Latino foods.  Additionally, years ago, EBM was the first in-state wholesaler of Mexican foods to mainstream markets such as Cub Foods and other supermarkets and convenience stores.  Until the big chain distributors quickly recognized the opportunity and they too began distributing Mexican wholesale and EBM went out of business.  Though now days, EBM thrives primarily on the food service side of the business and is known for offering unique ‘experiencias mexicanas’, we are still the primary Latino market for offering a variety of Latino brands such as Goya Foods, La Costenita, La Merced, and many more!

Argentinian Yerba Mate Tea

Guarana Brazilia

Guarana Brazilia
Goya Brand variety of frozen and dry.

It’s absolutely thrilling to witness the Hispanic growth in Minnesota and I am all about celebrating it!  While Hispanic Heritage Month offers the time and activities to recognize Hispanic contributions, my hope and wish is that we embrace and learn about the beautiful diversity our country offers all year long, not just during a dedicated time of year.

In an effort to increase awareness, I am now offering through EBM a variety of opportunities for groups, schools, clubs, teams, etc to experience another culture through a fun, interactive experience, I call them “Experiencias Mexicanas”, the activity can be offered in a rental facility, a home, in our El Cafe y Bar, or other venue and each quote is catered to include, food, drinks/cocktails (optional), and a hands-on experience.  The most popular is the Tamalada (tamales making) and Dia de los Muertos theme.  I can be contacted via email if you are interested in more information

El Burrito Mercado is celebrating 35years, and we have several great promotional and event based activities as part of the ongoing celebrations.  35years is a looong time! And the journey of growing up in a family owned business is incredible, I feel so blessed and grateful to my parents for their many sacrifices and hard work for this booming business.  EBM has impacted our family, the St. Paul Westside community, contributed thousands of dollars to organizations, and so, so many special people, some have been employees but many have become an extension of our family.  Thank you all for the 35years of support and loyalty!


We had a wonderful anniversary celebration in July, the community was present and supportive, local mariachi, dancers, bands, and we served refreshing margaritas as well as the traditional festival foods like tacos & elotes! Below is a link to the spanish video of the celebration, my father shared some words in the video, in summary, he thanks the community, our employees, and God for the support and many blessings our family has received through EBM, he could not have expressed it any better!

I also feel moved to congratulate the many other successful Hispanic owned business’ of Minnesota, such as La Loma Tamales, Manny’s Tortas, and Boca Chica amongst many more, Muchas Felicidades! Burrito Merc Logo

Quinceanera, what is it about really?

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My youngest daughter just turned 15 years old this month, and ever since she knew what a birthday party was, we started telling her and her sister that they would have a quinceanera.  In preparation of her quinceanera, we discussed at length what it was, and because we were trying to make it ‘traditional’, we also had a mass, and in preparation for the mass, the priest met with her and interviewed her father and I to make sure we all understood exactly what we were celebrating.  While the priest did a fine job of explaining what she should and shouldn’t do (more of a conversation of values and ‘no sex’ until married speech), I felt like something was missing?  I started asking girlfriends if they were going to have quinceaneras and what they thought of them?  And of course went to the internet, and I like the way this sums up both history and traditions:

The quinceañera has its origins many centuries ago when both boys and girls participated in rites of passage. To prepare for womanhood, girls were separated from other children at a certain age so the elder women could teach them about their future roles as members of family and community. During the official rites of passage, the community would thank the gods for the future wives and mothers, and the young women would vow to serve the community.

So many people say it is like a wedding in the sense of planning and details, and budget too.  It is not uncommon for parents to ask help of padrinos (godparents) to participate in the different parts of the mass, traditions, and even help pay for expenses like Padrino de Vino, Padrino de Limosina, Padrinos de Pastel(cake), Padrinos de Vestido (dress)etc. basically everyone else pays for the quinceanera party! I have mixed feelings on whether or not one should be planning a lavish party like this if it doesn’t fit into your budget to pay yourself? None the less, this is a common practice to pay for the quinceaneras. Yes, it’s a special celebration, but at least here in the states, I think one can get by without the big lavish party and modify according to budget.  My parents didn’t have a big lavish party for me, but they did have a nice mass, dinner, and party for me and my close friends, it was enough to make it a very special and memorable quinceanera for me.

I have two daughters, Alejandra is now 16yrs old and she chose to have a good ol’ american sweet 16 birthday party, which can also be very lavish.  We were moderate with it, she had a beautiful dinner & dj party, she did the 16candle tradition and performed a surprise dance, it was lovely, and she was extremely happy.  Image

My daughter Alejandra recently competed for the title of Miss Teen Minnesota Latina and ended with 2nd runner up, it was her first competition/pageant ever like it, we are very proud of her bravery to participate.

ImageAll of this has happened in the last four months, and while stress level was high, it was worth it for them, and it also made me appreciate these two very young women, aka my daughters, even more!  Alejandra & Julia’s desires to participate in these Latino inspired celebrations and events reminded me a lot of myself when I was a young latina discovering my identity, as many young women do.  Like my daughters, I wanted to ‘fit in’ with mainstream, yet very much embraced my culture and traditions, and that is tough to do at that age.  It was easier for me than for my daughters to embrace and learn the culture and traditions because I grew up in our family business so by default I learned alot! But for many 2nd generation kids (especially in the midwest) such as my daughters that didn’t grow up in a cultural based business/community, it makes for an even more challenging search of their identity.  I am so proud and supportive of their ambitions to participate and celebrate their culture.  There is a part of them that struggles yet to define what it means to them to be Latina, yet as many young 2nd generation Latinos, that is being characterized as they develop and mature.  For both of my daughters, they have not mastered Spanish as a 2nd language yet, they have the desire to do so, and meanwhile, while they often struggle with the frustration of not speaking Spanish, they most definitely are proud of their heritage and traditions.

My daughters are so inspiring for me, and I grasp the opportunities to teach them and others about our Mexican culture, foods, and traditions! Julia’s quinceanera was modified to her liking embracing some very symbolic traditions such as the changing from flats to heels, she also kept it to a ‘comfortable’ level of a traditional celebration.  Being raised Catholic and truly accepting of her faith, her personal prayer and mass were very important to her and evident in her expressions.  The father daughter moments in the celebration were probably the most endearing of her whole party, her father sang to her, changed her from flats to heels, and danced a choreographed surprise dance with her, it had us all in tears.


If you’re background is of rich cultural traditions, learn it, embrace it, and share it! I am so thrilled that my daughters have not turned their back on their culture, they are proud of who they are, and I am so incredibly happy for them.  Most of her friends at the party were caucasian and we heard over and over that it was one of the best parties they’d ever been to, and this made my daughter even more proud and encouraged about sharing her cultural traditions.

Want to plan a quinceanera for someone special in your life? I’d be happy to help with ideas and/or catering of a traditional quinceanera dinner.  Contact me at


Quince Mom