Culture

When The Twin Towers Fell Blocks From Her Place Of Work, This Jefa Became Inspired To Turn Her Love For Cooking Tamales Into A Business

@lalomatamales

Evelia Coyotzi is up and on her way to work before 4 A.M. seven days a week to sell her homemade tamales out of her pushcart parked at the corner of Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, Queens.

For 18 years now she’s been serving up a variety of tamales to New Yorkers from 4 A.M. to noon, many lining up to get them before they sell out. Even famed foodie, chef, and TV host Anthony Bourdain included her in an episode of his series Parts Unknown. But it wasn’t just about her food, it was her captivating story as a Mexican immigrant struggling to succeed as a street vendor that makes her an inspiring jefa and hustler.

She grew up in Tlaxcala, Mexico with a single mom and took on the role of caretaker for her siblings.

When her own son was two-years-old she decided to move to the U.S. to try and make more money to support her family. With the help of her brother, who already lived in the States, she was able to become a resident and later her husband joined her. 

She worked for McDonald’s and recalls being two blocks from the Twin Towers on 9/11. The location closed after the attacks and she decided to start selling tamales to make a living. 

She joined the thousands of street vendors that line the streets of NYC to sell her handmade tamales.

Though there are roughly 20,000 street vendors in NYC and it requires food vendors to have a permit, new permits haven’t been issued since a cap placed in 1983. As a result, there are only 3,100 permits available for city-wide food vending carts forcing thousands of street vendors to turn to the black market. Whereas before the cap vendors could get a two-year permit for $200, now vendors like Coyotzi lease them from previous vendors for upwards of $20,000. 

Coyotzi paid $8,000 for a licensed cart which turned out to be fake and told VICE that “she suffered a lot” after more than 15 arrests

She recalls police officers throwing her tamales away because she didn’t have a permit, a common occurrence for street vendors who are fined $1,000 if they don’t have a permit. 

In 2008, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg established 1,000 new permits for Green Carts selling fruits and vegetables but otherwise, no improvements have been made. 

The Street Vending Modernization Act was introduced in 2016 and proposed to double the number of permits over a seven-year span but the momentum waned by the end of 2017. In 2016, the New York Times reported that approximately 2,500 people are currently on the list for full-time permits.

Coyotzi pays $18,000 in the black market for a permit and sells her tamales for $1, working long hours every day to turn a profit and cover the cost of the permit.

In the meantime, Coyotzi and her husband Delfino Garcias, continue the hustle, now with six employees.

The “workday” actually begins at 9 p.m. when one of their employees cleans and prepares the chicken and tortas and then another employee makes the tamales, placing about 150 per bin for steaming for two hours. She also prepares the champurrado, atole, and Arroz con leche. 

They use a makeshift mixer using a drill to mix the masa for the base of the tamale and the fillings are a variety of seven flavors: roasted pepper and chicken, mole and chicken, green salsa and chicken, adobo with pork, pineapple with coconut, sweet tamales with raisins, and Oaxacan tamales. 

She’s barely finished setting up her pushcart before people begin to eagerly line up waiting for her now famous tamales, often selling 2000 every weekend.

Seeing the success she’s achieved and now that her son is already in college studying to become an engineer, she shares that she actually enjoys the work and hopes to one day open a tamale shop. 

“In the future, I want to give other women a chance to become a bigger part of the company if they want to. Because there are women who have been working with me for a while now,” she told VICE in Spanish.  

Watch the full video below!

Here Are The Latino Sodas You Need To Try Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Entertainment

Here Are The Latino Sodas You Need To Try Based On Your Zodiac Sign

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While the rest of society is tapping into how nature is a significant signaler to our emotional and spiritual needs, Latinos grew up finding meaning in every change in the wind, and every dream. We’re superstitious AF, but we’re also highly in tune with nature.

We’re also chugging soda and eating Goya beans from a can because it’s 2019 and we have full-time jobs and three other gigs to get to. Whatever you have on your plate today, these zodiac-aligned sodas are destined to be more effective for you, hijo de las estrellas.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

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Honey, the arrangement of the stars this summer is signaling you to stay off the ‘gram. Get away from social media and get out of your head. There’s nothing like a sweet, tropical Jupiña to take with you to the beach or mountains.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

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Taurus’s are often misunderstood as lazy, but the fact is that you are more in touch with your self and your needs than any other sign. You’re free from the shame of indulging as an act of self-love. So when you have a Malta, you definitely add condensed milk to it to maximize the effects of every self-treat. Plus, it reminds you of drinking Malta as a niño and feeling like you could kick your feet up with the beer-drinking adults.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

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You’re represented by celestial twins–signifying a range of meanings, primarily to represent your many interests. The story goes that the goddess had so many passions, she doubled herself to get it all done. Cuba’s Iron Beer hasn’t decided whether it’s root beer or cream soda, and that’s because, like you, it can be both. 

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

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This summer, your space is yours. Whether you’re staying home to reflect and refuel your tank or burning up that gasolina on the dance floor, Jarritos stay with you. Nourishing both your home realm and your social side will be important for you. Pro tip: spiked Jarritos is even better.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

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Leo, your allure could be spotted from a mile away. Inca Kola’s neon yellow bubble gum flavors will make you glow in the dark. Don’t play like that doesn’t sound like your dream.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

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The energies of the lunar eclipse in Capricorn is still inspiring productivity like never before in you, hermit. Topo Chico is not a soda, per se, but it is a bubbly drink that you can enjoy anytime. Whether you’re drinking it straight from the bottle at your desk or adding your favorite fruits, Topo Chico is the only bubbly you need to keep you in the zone.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

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Ooh, Libra, your summer is set to look very physically (read: so much sex) active. You always have many people vying for your attention, but as you work on building trust with your chosen partner, you’re going to need to hydrate. Materva is brewed with mate leaves, giving you a bit of caffeine (alongside 40 grams of sugar, but who’s counting) to fuel your love life.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

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Like Mexican Coke, you, scorpion, have a cult following. But this month isn’t about what other people think of you. No matter the expectations of you, it’s time to turn inward and go back to old wounds that cause all the classic drama in your life. Don’t worry, when you let it go, you’ll still be a classic inside and out.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

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Travels are in your future, Sagittarius. There’s nothing more germane to its country of origin than Colombiana soda. Its bubble gum scented cream soda flavors will always remind you of the importance of honoring the place you visit.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

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Fellow sea goats–it has been un mes tan pesado. No te preocupes–instead of trying to find out where you fit, it’s time to realize you belong everywhere in this world. You’re not just a Mundet, you’re an elusive green apple cider. Embrace your individuality. It will set you free.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

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You, Aquarius, are in a humanitarian activist mode. With Puerto Rico’s police force firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, PR’s favorite soda, Kola Champagne, will be fuel for your fire.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

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Our favorite water-lovers can take their game to the next level this summer with Coco Rico. This soda is here for you when you want to drink out of a coconut on the beach, but with more sugar and carbonation. It’s next-level water, básicamente.

READ: The Brief And Surprising History Of Tex-Mex Food That You’ve Never Heard

Every Foodie Should Familiarize Themselves With This List Of The Best Latin American Restaurants In The World

Culture

Every Foodie Should Familiarize Themselves With This List Of The Best Latin American Restaurants In The World

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As we reported a few days ago, Latin American chefs did pretty great at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. Latin American fine cuisine got a total of nine spots in the list, and two in the top ten. This is quite an achievement for a region that is relatively new to fine dining. Cities like Mexico City and Lima have just become culinary epicenters thanks to visionaries that have translated tradition into modern masterpieces. However, credit is due to the centuries of cultural remix that has produced legendary dishes. Indigenous, colonial and other influences come together in the plate and wow judges and patrons. If these places have something in common, it is the inquisitive nature of their lead chefs. They went deep into the cultural roots of their countries, even finding new ingredients to achieve creativity and perfection.

We have to pay respect to the traditional recipes and the many years (and sometimes centuries) of experimentation by everyday cooks that led to these awards. So, we have listed some of the traditional influences that these restaurants have had. Sometimes it was all there already, and chefs just took it a step further! The restaurants in this list range from the high end to a Brazilian eatery that is relaxed and not expensive at all.

At number 6: Central (Lima, Peru), Best restaurant in South America,
Influenced by: ancient, indigenous Peruvian food

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This is the flagship restaurant of kitchen wizard Virgilio Martínez Véliz, who travels deep into each region of his home country to fund ancient ingredients. He collaborates with indigenous men and women to learn about traditional ways of cooking. He has introduced ingredients such as the Amazonian piranha into the menu. His drive to experiment has made him a celebrity chef the world over. You can learn about his journey in S3E6 of the Netflix show Chef’s Table

At number 10:  Maido (Lima, Peru), Influenced by: traditional Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian twist and local ingredients

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A testament to the ethnic diversity of Peru. The Japanese immigration in Peru has been constant and has led this ethnic minority to have a vibrant place in the social, cultural and political life of the South American country. This restaurant is let my “Micha” Tsumura, who offers a Nikkei experience that includes classic Peruvian seafood such as sea urchin and sea snail. Lima is certainly keeping up with cities such as New York, Tokyo, and Paris, which are usually the leaders of the pack. 

3. At number 12: Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico), Best Restaurant in North America, Influenced by: traditional Mexican food, particularly from Oaxaca

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Enrique Olvera has established himself as one of the main voices of the global fine art circuit. In his flagship Mexico City restaurant he offers dishes that use indigenous ingredients, particularly from the colorful region of Oaxaca. His team makes tortillas by hand, grinding species of corn that are rare. Olvera is not shy to experiment with ingredients that might seem “weird” to Western patrons, such as chicatana ants. A delightful experience that needs to be tasted to be believed. 

4. At number 23: Cosme (New York City), Influenced by: traditional Mexican garnachas 

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A New York restaurant with a 100% Mexican soul. Created by Olvera and led by Mexican chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who has revealed herself as a unique culinary voice and was named the World’s Best Female Chef 2019. She serves Modern Mexican food that is inspired by the crunchiness and glorious saltiness of Mexican street food, or garnachas. If you want to take your carnitas, infladitas, and tamales to the next level, then this is the place for you. Sinful delights all around. By the way, the kitchen is 50% female, which goes hand in hand with the chef’s ideas of equality. She also employs people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, both from the United States and overseas. 

5. At number 24: Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico), Influenced by: traditional Mexican cuisine

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The brainchild of chef Jorge Vallejo (who used to work at Pujol) is a tribute to the postcolonial flavors of Mexico. If Pujol strived to bring back ancient recipes, Quintonil offers new interpretations of classic everyday dishes such as tostadas de cangrejo and the luxurious escamoles (ant eggs). Even dishes that your abuelita might have made, such as Huazontles or salpicon, are featured here. Look at their take on a flauta in the photo above. 

6. At number 26: Boragó (Santiago, Chile), Influenced by: ingredients from Chile’s geographical diversity

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Rodolfo Guzman is a raising rockstar. Like Peru’s Central, this restaurant features ingredients from every corner of the country. Rodolfo gets ingredients from the Atacama desert, all the way down to the frigid Patagonia landscapes. Have you ever tasted flowers? Well, here you can: the signature dishes is a blend of roasted flowers, Van Gogh style! 

7. At number 34: Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Influenced by: traditional asado techniques 

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They say that if you are going to do one thing, you do it the best you can. This restaurant led by Pablo Jesus Rivero might make the best steak in the world. Following the traditional ways of cooking meat in the Pampas, cuts like rump steak and skirt steak are cooked to perfection. Sweetbread empanadas are also a standout. The decor follows the aesthetic of a 19th-century country estancia, when European pioneers made their way into the depths of the nascent country.

8. At number 39: A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil), Influenced by: Brazilian working class cooking

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Pork is a relatively easy stock to raise, and it has been a staple in the diets of Brazilians for centuries. Chef Jefferson Rueda reimagines everything you can do with pork. He raises the pigs on a diet of vegetables, slaughters them in house and uses every single part of the animal, making items such as blood sausages. The degustation menu is a culinary experience that also includes beans, cabbage, and banana, other staples of Brazilian home kitchens. The owners strive to make the restaurant accessible to the community, so prices are far from exorbitant. You can dine for $13 dollars.

9. At number 49: Leo (Bogotá, Colombia), Influenced by: indigenous uses of local fruits and vegetables

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Chef Leonor Espinosa has become a celebrity thanks to her bubbly personality and her use of little known ingredients such as corozo fruit, arrechon (a supposed aphrodisiac) and bijao, a banana-like plant. She learns from communities and their gastronomic traditions, creating dishes that include, for example, a crunchy coating made from ants. The menu explores different Colombian animal and plant species. A map shows where each one was sourced. The chef also runs a foundation FUNLEO, which aims to identify, reclaim and enhance the culinary traditions in Colombian communities.

READ: Mexican Food Meets Japanese Food In These Next Level Mexican Sushi Creations

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