Growing the Brand

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In 2004 at El Burrito Mercado we began producing and packaging authentic Mexican foods to be  sold under the brand name of El Burrito Mercado. The product’s quality is held to the high standards of the Silva family assuring an authentic Mexican experience.

We continue to develop our products with careful attention to ingredients, preparation and packaging assuring “La Experiencia Mexicana” (The Mexican Experience).

As Director of Marketing I am responsible for the development of our retail marketing strategy.  I am also accountable for building strategies focused on growth across market segments.

I accomplish these goals in many ways:

  • One way was by brokering a deal with the Midtown Global Market. Just like our flagship store, this new Pop-Up style El Burrito Mercado has a grocery store component, as well as Mexican cuisine, gifts, and housewares for sale. Our classic enchiladas and burritos are served from a cafeteria-style restaurant.
  • Another way I accomplished this goal was before Cinco de Mayo we acquired a liquor license from the city of St. Paul. so our patrons could enjoy a margarita with their gorditas or enchiladas.We held a Grand Opening with a margarita garden in our parking lot on May 4 and 5. We served tequilas and a few other liquors and cocktails.I also held an event to show off the new bar and offer a sneak peek of our margaritas. The entire event, which included a market tour, a salsa-making demonstration, dinner and a margarita, costs $40.

The response we recieved from our patron was priceless. If you want to build your brand try being as authentic as possible.

Milissa

Create Your Own Opportunites

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According to the U.S. Census bureau over 250,000 people of hispanic decent live in Minnesota that’s around 4.9 percent of Minnesota’s population. I think more than half of them have been to El Burrito Mercado at least once.

El Burrito Mercado, is a Traditional Mexican Market and family business located here in Saint Paul, Minnesota and it is a home away from home for many, hispanics specifically  Mexican’s.  Our mission is to deliver the La Experencia Mexicana (The Mexican Experience) Our market is big with lots of aisles filled with traditional Mexican goods.

It also has a comfortable atmosphere,  our staff is friendly and we have plenty of  regulars, from business lunch meetings for two to families of ten. So how did our local Latino market–that got its start in a tiny St. Paul market–get our Salsas and tamales on the shelves of 126 SuperTarget stores across the nation?

We popped up on Minneapolis-based Target Corp.‘s radar screen because we offer Traditional Mexican products and we have built a strong  relationship with the local Hispanic community.

My parents opened El Burrito Mercado in 1979, and it has become a Twin Cities Latino Landmark.  Our authentic cuisine and has has won awards and played host to national and international dignitaries like Vice President Dick Cheney and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

As an entrepreneur it is important to remain authentic in all you do. By remaining true to your clients your clients will remain true to you.

Milissa

How El Burrito Mercado Got Started

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It all started in 1979 in a tiny store front that only offered dry Mexican groceries and tortillas.  We had one cash register, and a van that my father would use on weekends to go to Chicago to pick up merchandise.My parents struggled to get their first loan, they had faith they worked hard and with support from Latino community professionals, they were able to obtain their first loan to begin their mercado (market). Both my parents worked other jobs in the start up phase of the business taking turns covering at the market and taking us with them on the weekends.

happy owner of a restaurant

Tomas Silva

My Father comes from a very humble ‘rancho’ or town where he spent most of his life in poverty  under very poor conditions. As the oldest of three siblings he took on the responsibility  of putting food on the table to help his mother, and began working at a very young age.

My Father taught me :

  • You must work hard in order to be successful
  • You can overcome any obstacle in life
  • Be grateful everyday for the blessings you have.

As  my father  grew older, he found out he had a knack for creating authentic Mexican foods ; he sold tamales, roasted corn, esquite (cooked corn kernels), among other things.

What I admire most about my father is that he taught himself  how to create, manage and sell his products he is quite the entrepreneur!
My father was the first in Minnesota to introduce a corn roaster at festivals. He prepared them Mexican style and he they were a hit. He now has three corn roasters which are busy all summer at festivals and events such as Grand Ol Days, Lumber Jack Days, Taste of MN, Cinco de Mayo, and of course every weekend outside the business! For information on Tomas bringing the corn roaster to your event, please contact Tomas Jr, tomas@elburritomercado.com
restaurant manager woman at work place

Maria Silva

My mom migrated to the United States with her family when she was 10yr old. She is one of the youngest of nine. As a young woman while her siblings worked as migrant workers in beet fields in Minnesota and Colorado. My mom would baby sit and care for her nieces and nephews.  She watched her mother and older sisters create authentic mexican recipies and, she found she really had a passion for cooking.

My mother began experimenting in the kitchen, she would take any cookbooks she could get her hands on! My mother also attended Mechanical School of Arts High School where she says one of her favorite classes was home economics. My mom overcame distinct obstacles and endured racism, discrimination,  and poverty, but her perseverance kept her moving ahead.

Mom oversees the quality of the food at El Burrito Mercado, and is an advisor for the management team. Mom makes regular trips to Mexico for purchases of the Mexican fine art and folk art which you will find all over El Burrito Mercado.

During her free time, she spends time with her seven grandchildren, and  nurtures her Victorian gardens. Mom also volunteers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church where she is an active member.

What Are Sugar Skulls?

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What are Sugar Skulls?
Sugar skulls are  skull-shaped sugar. Traditional Sugar Skulls  are made from a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into special skull molds. The sugar mixture is allowed to dry and then the Sugar skull is decorated with icing, feathers, colored foil and more. While the ingredients of Sugar Skulls are edible they are generally used for decorative purposes. However some small sugar skulls that are made with basic icing are intended to be consumed.

How are Sugar Skulls used during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) today?
Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd.

Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st to represent the children who have deceased.

On November 2nd they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults.

These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls.

These designs are usually very brightly colored and sort of whimsical, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foil can be “glued” on with the icing to create really decorative skulls.

Sugar skull given for the Day of the Dead. The...
Sugar skull given for the Day of the Dead. They’re also made with chocolate and amaranto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At El Burrito Mercado  we sell small, edible skulls to be eaten during the holiday these Sugar Skulls are made by various artists who sculpt, paint or create beautiful skulls to be used as decorations, jewelry and more.

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Pan de Muertos Recipe

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This bread has a sweet flavor and is used on the altars of deceased loved ones during “Day of the Dead” festivities.  You will also make the bone-like shapes that decorate the top of the loaf and place them before baking.

While fresh Pan de Muerto is always soft and delicious, you can also get pre-made Pan de Muerto made by the Mexican bakery  at El Burrito Mercado.

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Glaze (see below)

Preparation:

Bring all ingredients to room temperature (except for the water which should be very warm) before beginning.
  • In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, anise, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour.
  • In a seperate bowl combine the eggs and the water.
  • Add the egg/water mixture to the first mixture and add in another 1/2 cup of the flour.
  • Add in the yeast and another 1/2 cup of flour.
  • Continue to add the flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms.
  • Knead on a floured surface for about 1 minute.
  • Cover with a slightly damp dishcloth and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Bring out dough and punch it down.
  • Remove about 1/4 of it and use it to make bone shapes to drape across the loaf (see below.)
  • Or divide the dough into smaller pieces to create other bone shapes. Let the shaped dough rise for 1 more hour.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for smaller loaves and up to 45 minutes for larger loaves.

GLAZES(After glaze is applied you may decorate with additional colored sugar.)

  • Bring to a boil- 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh orange juice. Brush on bread and then sift some additional sugar over the top.
  • Mix 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1/3 cup sugar with 2 egg whites. Brush on bread during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Bring to a boil- 1/4 cup piloncillo, 1/4 cup sugar, 2/3 cup cranberry juice and 2 tablespoons orange zest. Brush on bread after bread has cooled.

BONES The most common bone decorations are very simple.

  • Sometimes it’s just a matter of forming ball shapes and pressing them into the loaf in a line.
  • You could also take a piece of dough, roll it into a long cylinder and place a ball at each end.
  • You can get much more detailed if you like, but even a little “knobby” looking loaf will get the idea across.

Recipe by Chelsea Kenyon

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Sugar Skulls Recipe

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Making the sugar skulls isn’t hard if you follow these easy steps. Having the right sugar skull ingredients is the most important step . You can find the best sugar skull supplies at El Burrito Mercado in the grocery section, you can also find pre-made Sugar Skulls

Ingredients you will need sugar skulls:

  • Granulated Sugar (adjust amount depending on how many sugar skulls you will be making. Approximately 1 cup per 6 small sugar skulls, 4 medium or 1 large whole sugar skull.)
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Sugar Skull molds (shape and size of your preference. (Some are faces only and some include two parts that you put together to make a whole skull.)
  • Meringue powder, 1 teaspoon for each cup of sugar. (Helps to hold the sugar together.)
  • Powdered sugar for the sugar skull decorative icing.
  • Paste food coloring to color the icing.
  • Icing decorator bags
  • A large, dry area for the sugar skulls to dry in. (Once for the sugar to dry in the mold, and once for the icing to dry.)
  • Any other decoration you like such as foil, beads or feathers.

What are Sugar Skulls?
Sugar skulls are exactly that- skull-shaped sugar. Traditional Sugar Skulls are made from a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into special skull molds. The sugar mixture is allowed to dry and then the sugar skull is decorated with icing, feathers, colored foil and more. While the ingredients of Sugar Skulls are edible (with the exception of the non-edible decorations you may add) the skulls are generally used for decorative purposes. However some small sugar skulls that are made with basic icing are intended to be consumed.

How are Sugar Skulls used during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) today?
Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd.

Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st to represent the children who have deceased.

On November 2nd they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults.

These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls.

These designs are usually whimsical and brightly colored, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foils are “glued” on with the icing to create highly ornate skulls.

At El Burrito Mercado  we sell small, edible skulls to be eaten during the holiday these Sugar Skulls are made by various artists who sculpt, paint or create beautiful skulls to be used as decorations, jewelry and more.

Dia De Los Muertos

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diadellos muertosDay of the Dead (Spanish: Dia De Los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world.  Dia De Los Muertos focuses on family and friends getting together to pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away.

November 1st begins the Dia de los Muertos festivities  in connection with the Catholic holiday of  All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered.

November 2nd–in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Souls Day– is for the remembrance of the adult dead.

Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories.

Despite it’s name, Day of the Dead is not a scary, spooky or somber Holiday. The spirits of the deceased are said to pay their families a visit during Dia de los Muertos so the families prepare an altar for them.

Traditions connected with Dia De Los Muertos include:

  • Building private altars honoring the deceased
  • Making Sugar Skulls and marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed then visiting graves with these as gifts if you can.
  • They also leave possessions of the deceased.

The Altar
The altar consists of a covered table, and a few crates or boxes are added and covered to create open shelves and other raised display areas. The coverings used can vary from plain to vibrantly colored cloth. The altar is then set up with the appropriate offerings (Spanish: ofrendas) for Dia de los Muertos.

Ofrendas:

The offerings placed on the altar for Dia de los Muertos usually consist of:

  • A wash bowl, basin, razors, soap and other items the traveling spirit can use to clean-up after the journey.
  • Pictures of the deceased
  • Personal belongings for each person and any other offerings the deceased may enjoy such as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of tequila.
  • Candles to help light the way for the spirits
  • Papel picado (tissue paper cut-outs) wreaths, crosses and flowers.
  • Dia de los Muertos dishes to help feed and nourish the traveling souls.

These offerings also represent the four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. These are represented by movable or light-weight items such as tissue paper cut-outs (wind,) a bowl of water, candles (fire) and food (crops, earth.)

“Day of the Dead” Recipes

  • Sugar Skulls
    The most popular “Dia de los Muertos” ofrenda is Sugar Skulls. Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art from Central and Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. The skulls are made of a sugar mixture that has been pressed into molds and then dried. The dried sugar skulls are decorated with icing and sometimes non-edible items such as colored foil, feathers or sequins. Learn more about Sugar Skulls here and make your own Sugar Skulls here

  • Pan de Muerto
    This sweet bread is eaten by the families of the deceased during Dia de los Muertos, and placed on the altar. The Pan de Muerto is a made into a loaf and and extra dough is fashioned into decorations resembling bones. The bread is baked, glazed and decorated with colored sugar. Make your own Pan de Muerto here.

     

  • Candied Pumpkin
    This sweet dish consists of fresh pumpkin slices that are cooked in a piloncillo glaze. The Candided Pumpkin is also enjoyed by the family during Dia de los Muertos as well as placed on the altar.

  • Chocolate Coffins and Skulls
    These chocolate items are a newer addition to the altars. They can be plain or decorated with other edible items such as colored sugar, brightly colored candies or sprinkles. Chocolate Coffins and Skulls can be bought pre-made at El Burrito Mercado or you can make them yourself. 

Atole
A hot cup of masa porridge  known as Atole is used to nourish and warm the spirits when they return and/or when they leave.

 

 

 

 

 

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Dia De Los Muertos to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl.

mictecacihuatl

The holiday has spread throughout the world:

In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches.

In Spain there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones.

Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 29th week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To learn more about Dia De Los Muertos visit El Burrito Mercado on Nove 1st thru 3rd Learn More

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