One of the nicest things about living in Los Angeles is that we are surrounded by opportunities to appreciate the diverse Hispanic Heritage of our fellow residents all year around. National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a dedicated time when we as a nation celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Interestingly, the observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, under President Lyndon Johnson, and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402, according to the U.S. Census.
And the reason the month begins on September 15 is that 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. Also, Columbus Day – or Día de la Raza – which is October 12, falls within the 30 day celebration period.
While there are many ways to celebrate, we highly recommend eating your way through National Hispanic Heritage Month. Check out some of the wonderful small businesses operating at our very own melting pot of culinary traditions at The Original Farmers Market, at 3rd and Fairfax, where there is a rich history of bringing together small businesses from diverse backgrounds to serve the neighborhood in one centralized location.
To whet your appetite, two of the Market’s vendors shared some of their family recipes with the Buzz.
Armando Puente, owner of Farm Fresh Produce, has been working at the Market since 1989, and became owner of Farm Fresh in 1996. In the mornings, you can see him squeezing fresh orange juice for his customers. The stand features a vintage orange juice machine, circa 1970, that squeezes twenty-five cases of Valencia oranges per day. That translates to about fifty gallons!
Puente shared his recipe for Fresh Fruit Parfait with Shredded Coconut, a rich and beautiful cornucopia of fruit salad he makes every morning. The combination of juicy fruit, cool sour cream, creamy condensed milk, and crunchy granola is a great way to start the day.
½ cup sour cream
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 apple, preferably Fuji or Gala, cored and cut into chunks
¼ cantaloupe, peeled and cut into chunks
2 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
4 large strawberries, stemmed and halved lengthwise
¼ cup fresh blueberries
¼ cup granola
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut
Combine the sour cream and condensed milk in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Layer the fruit in two parfait glasses or cereal bowls, dividing it equally. Top each with half of the sour cream mixture, then sprinkle each with half of the granola, raisins, and coconut. Serve right away or chill.
The Salad Bar is a another great place in the Market for fast, fresh selections, including a rainbow of custom-blended whole-fruit smoothies. Mangoes are low in fat and a vitamin- powerhouse making this a perfect choice for a simple beverage enjoyed during breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. The Salad Bar owner Maria Brown told the Buzz that some customers personalize the drink by adding coconut milk for a colada-style shake.
Brown bought her business in 1996. She has never worked anywhere else in her entire life except at Farmers Market. She arrived in Los Angeles at age thirteen with limited English-speaking skills, but knew she wanted to work in the food business. One of fourteen children, she says food is in her blood. Her father was a soda distributor in Mexico, and her sister owns a meat market, but it was her brother-in-law who worked at the Market first and got her a job directly across from the Salad Bar!
Mango Delight Smoothie
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
1 cup water
½ ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
6 strawberries, stemmed and halved
2 cups ice cubes
In a blender, combine the mango and water. Pure until completely liquefied, about 1 minute. Add the papaya, banana, strawberries, and ice. Blend until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes.
We’ve been promised a few more family recipes from the Market, so stay tuned!