Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods

Chilis and Piñatas

Silvestre Rosas owns the Guadalupita store in Belmont

Norteña music blasts from a boom-box at a Mexican grocery store in Belmont.  There is little space to move between aisles crammed with canned foods and bags of Mexican treats.

Bright piñatas hang from the ceiling along with metal pots used for making tamales. Piggy banks made of clay, sit snugly on a rack, just a couple steps away from lollipops covered with chili powder.

With so many trinkets and snacks to buy. What sells the most in this cluttered store?

Owner Silvestre Rosas glances at a five foot long freezer with avocados, fresh chilli pepers, tomatoes and nopal leaves.

“People come for the vegetables” he says.

Rosas points at a batch of green Guaje pods. “People open these ones and take out little seeds that are inside, they grind the seeds in the molcajetes –earth pots that are also on sale- they mix it with some chilli peppers and make a salsa.” he says.

A native of the state of Puebla, Rosas reckons he will be too busy tending his store to party on Cinco de Mayo.

Fordham college students may come in for a six pack or two, and just in case any clients want to get patriotic, Rosas is also selling Mexican flags. For more day-to-day necessities he also sells Ponds face creams and candles to light at church altars.

But none of this is as popular as the vegetables.

“Mexicans from the south use vegetables often,” says Rosas. “Like the Poblano chili peppers, which they fill with cheese and cover with salsa.  In my house, my wife cooks that for me too.”

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