La Madre de Mexicanos, La Virgen de Guadalupe

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

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

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

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

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

(La historia de la Virgen de Guadalupe:ñora_de_Guadalupe_(México) Our Lady of Guadalupe story


Virgin of Guadalupe, the mother of all Mexicano!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viva Mexico! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!


Celebrate Dia de los Muertos, so they RIP

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

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

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.


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 is available in our panaderia 


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.

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.  Our creative Resident Artist & Decorator, Denisea Elsola does an amazing job every year,  visit us and get inspired.   We hope you will consider building your own ofrenda and partake in this colorful celebration of life!



Milissa Silva-Diaz




“…And I Could Feel Mexico”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

Viva Mexico, visit us soon and visit us often!



Celebration of Carnitas, for the love of pork!

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IMG_2278Thanks to the town of San Francisco de los Romos aka San Pancho de las Carnitas (Pancho is nickname for Francisco, carnitas is the general term used for a variety of cooked pork) in Aguascalientes, Mexico, they gave carnitas fame & glory!

Aguascalientes is where my parents are from! San Pancho de las Carnitas is a tourist attraction primarily for it’s delicious forms of cooking carnitas.  Aguascalientes (translates ‘hot waters) fairly central in Mexico, and though now in less abundance, has hot thermal waters.


This year the municipal of San Francisco de los Romos is hosting its 1st Annual Festival de las Carnitas, an event to celebrate that for which the town is famously known, the gastronomy of the region, and in particular, its carnitas! Entertainment, folklore, and food will be featured throughout the weekend long celebration.  The tourist attraction is expecting visitors from all over the state and regional area.

My father is the one that started the carnitas cooking in our family business El Burrito Mercado and although retired, he is still our biggest critic and we love it! In our exclusive Mexican deli we continue to feature carnitas, you’ll find the traditional carnitas made from pork butt and most commonly chopped to use in torta sandwiches or in tacos.   We also cook on site chicharron tronador, chorizos, surtido, chales, guisados, and pastor.  And in our mercado we offer the fullest & traditional variety of pork (as well as beef & poultry) in the butcher shop, grocery, deli, and botana bar.

Chicharron (fried pork rind)
chicharron prensado 1
Chicharron Prensado en Salsa Roja
Pata de Puerco en Vinagre (pickled pigs feet)
Chicharron en Salsa Verde
IMG_2273 IMG_2274

In honor of my parents roots, in celebration with the Festival de las Carnitas, and for the love of pork, we have decided to also celebrate carnitas starting small this year with the idea of a bigger festival next year! This Sunday October 11, we will have mariachi, live music, and we will feature carnitas, chorizo, chicharron sancocho, & pastor on our Taco Patio outside in back of our building.  In El Cafe Restaurant y Bar, we are offering Festival de las Carnitas Platillo a plate full of chorizo, carnitas, pork ribs, and guisado de chicharron, rice & beans!  In the deli buy 5lb of carnitas and receive free 1/2lb salsa and 1dz tortilla, Botana Bar (snack bar)) Cueritos Preparados, and in the grocery & meat department specials too! 

If you choose to come buy pork butt, nake your own carnitas, here is a recipe with both fried & baked options!

Restaurant Special, Festival de Carnitas Platillo, carnitas, chorizo, guisado, and costillas!
Taco Patio: Trompo de Carne Pastor (seasoned pork meat for tacos)
Botana Bar: Cueritos (pickled pork skin) prepared on chicharron de harina (fried pressed flour) cabbage, tomato, cucumber, sourcream, and salsa
Join us this Sunday for the Celebracion de las Carnitas, 12-5pm, eat, shop, explore and celebrate La Experiencia Mexicana!

Millions of Gallons of Salsa for Superbowl!

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I haven’t been able to get my mom to write a recipe book yet, so, I’m going to ‘trick’ her into working on it by helping me with my new monthly recipe blogs! Eventually I should collect enough recipes to start her recipe book.  In these blogs, expect some of the recipes to be my mothers, some will be from El Burrito Mercado, and some my own (what I call my own but really it’s a collection from my husband’s family and what I’ve ‘picked up’ along the way).  I realize there are folks at all levels of cooking experience, and the recipes will vary in difficulty but I assure you, each will be delightful and true to la Experiencia Mexicana!

This first recipe is inspired by the upcoming SUPERBOWL game that is only about two weeks away scheduled for Sunday, February 2- not that I am a football fan because I don’t understand the game(though I wish I did)!  Yet, I love the Superbowl fan energy and it’s another excuse to eat, drink, and cheer for the exact opposite team my husband cheers for (whomever it will be!)

Are you wondering, do Mexicans watch Superbowl?  Well amigos, I don’t know what percentage of Mexicans watch the big game??  (I smirk) But…. I know that the favorite football food is Mexican!

Millions of gallons of salsa and guacamole are consumed in that one day!  According to Delish, for last years Superbowl, food must haves were Salsa, Chips & Guac at #1, and Nachos at #6! We are definitely Mexicanizing Superbowl eats! (website:

So, I’m ‘kicking-off’  the recipe blogs with the elemental component of all Mexican meals: SALSA!  Here it is, an easy, go-to, must have, roasted red salsa:

ROASTED TOMATO SALSA: yields approx 3cups


3-4 fresh jalapeño chiles (use serrano if you want it spicier)
2-3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1/4 cup minced onion
5-7 small to medium roma tomatoes (or use about 2 cans 15-ounce can of diced (better if roasted) tomatoes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro(optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

Directions (don’t forget to open a window and make sure the vent fan is on!)

1. Roast the tomatoes, chiles and garlic.   In a small  skillet over medium heat, heat oil and roast the tomatoes first, turning regularly until well charred on all sides about 15minutes, 10 minutes into roasting tomatoes, add chiles and garlic(with skin on), turning regularly, until they are soft and patched brown, about 5-10 minutes for the chiles, 10-15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool until touchable, then remove the chile stems and chop a bit, peel the skin off the garlic.  Place chiles, garlic, and onion into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

2.    Finalizing the salsa.   Add the tomatoes.  Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree or desired consistency.  Add lime juice, garnish with cilantro (optional).  Taste and season with salt, about 1 teaspoon.  Ready to serve! (feel free to add a couple tablespoons of water for a ‘juicier’ consistency)

A salsa like this is great for dipping with chips (try our All Natural Stoneground Corn Chips available at Cub Foods, Kowalski’s, Produce Exchange in Midtown Global Market) Make a not-so-spicy dip for kids, stir the salsa with sour cream for a mild and thicker salsa dip! Or, heat up the salsa in sauce pan and serve over huevos rancheros or your favorite pulled pork, beef or chicken, side with rice & beans for a complete Mexican meal.

There are tons of salsa recipes and variations, I find this one to be a great basic red salsa, and I love the roasted flavor.  Are you a green salsa lover (like me?), want to offer two salsas at your superbowl party?  Easy!  Replace the small romas with ripe tomatillos, peel the husks and wash them, follow same procedures as the red salsa directions, be sure to add the cilantro!

Of course, all these ingredients can be found at El Burrito Mercado, and while you are there, grab avocados to make guacamole for your Superbowl fiesta! Plus a huge selection of other delicious snacks from Minnesota’s only full service Mexican deli- EL BURRITO MERCADO!

Need more Superbowl fiesta ideas?  Please email me milissa@elburritomercado.comDoes this information seem accurate? What is a MUST food at your Superbowl party?

If you don’t think you’ll have time to make your own salsa for this Sunday, visit our deli and take a few flavors!