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

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!

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A Mexican Artist Is Making Pancake Art That’s Too Beautiful To Eat

Culture

A Mexican Artist Is Making Pancake Art That’s Too Beautiful To Eat

Social media is where people can show off just about anything they create. This includes art in any and all media, like pancake art. Claudia, the creator behind Nappan Pancake art, is the latest artist watching their art reach the masses.

Claudia, the artist behind Nappan Pancake art, got her start because of the pandemic.

The artist first started to play around with pancake art last spring break when the pandemic forced businesses and schools to close. Claudia wanted to get more creative with her kids’ breakfasts since they were now always at home.

“I started experimenting with making Pancake art,” Claudia recalls to mitú. “At first I only used the color of the natural dough and a little cocoa. At first, I just used the ketchup dispensers and little by little I learned.”

Claudia uses her pancake art to honor some truly iconic people.

@nappancakes

Responder a @detodoun_poco233 Cepillín ✨🥞✨ en nuestros ♥️ #parati #fy #HijosAdopTiktoks #adoptiktoks #viral #foryou @cepillintv #pancakeart ncakeart

♬ La Feria de Cepillin – Cepillín

Cepillín recently died and the loss was felt throughout the community. He made our lives joyous and fun with his music, especially his birthday song. Some of the creations are done for fans who request to see their faves turned into delicious pancake art.

The artist loves creating the edible works of art.

The journey of becoming a pancake artist has been a fun adventure for Claudia and her children. The more she has practiced, the more she has been able to do.

“Sometimes I scream with excitement and I go to all the members of my house to see it,” Claudia says about her successes. “Other times it’s just a feeling like “disappointment could be better” other times it just breaks or burns and then I just cry but it usually feels very satisfying.”

You can check out all of her creations on TikTok.

@nappancakes

Responder a @reyna100804santoyo siii🥞✨ díganle que me adopte 🥺 @ederbez #adoptiktoks #hijosadoptiktoks #parati #foryou #viral #fy #art #pancakeart

♬ Little Bitty Pretty One – Thurston Harris

With 350,000 followers and growing, it won’t be long until more people start to fully enjoy Claudia’s art. Her children can’t get enough of it and she is so excited to share it with the rest of the world.

READ: Spicy Food Lovers Have Reason To Celebrate As New Study Says Eating Chilies Could Be Secret To Longevity

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

Things That Matter

Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

Like many street vendors, 45-year-old Lorenzo Pérez sold food to support his family.

Married and the father of four children ages 15, 13, 9, and 1, Perez is described by friends and family as being well known amongst neighborhood residents. He was often seen working alongside his daughter who helped him on occasion. Now, the community and family who knew Perez well are in mourning, after he was shot in broad daylight while doing his job.

Perez died after he being shot in the head in southeast Fresno on Sunday afternoon.

Fresno Police were called to the scene of a possible robbery at Alta and Pierce Avenues, near Kings Canyon and Willow around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. On the way to the scene, the police officers learned that a street vendor had been shot once in the head.

According to reports, Perez was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center where he ultimately died.

Witnesses of the murder told officers that a man had beckoned Perez to come over to him in a way that suggested he was going to purchase something from him.

According to police reports, when Perez walked up to the suspect, the man pulled out a gun and shot the vendor. He then stole a few items, which have not been identified, and flew the scene. Witnesses told police officers that they’d seen the man loitering around the area before the shooting.

A local news station reported that “Officers are now looking into surveillance footage from the area to try and identify the shooter… Through a statement, Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez announced that he will be offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.”

“The coward that murdered our food vendor, turn yourself in and face the consequences. You’ve brought tremendous pain to a family and our city,” Chavez exclaimed in the statement.

To help the Perez family, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria set up a GoFundMe account which has already raised $141,780 out of its $125,000 goal.

Perez’s son, Isai, described his father in a recent interview as a “great man.”

“My father was a great man. He was a great father, a great husband, a great friend,” he said in an interview. “He spread love and kindness. He was about fairness, he wanted to share his happiness. He meant no harm. He didn’t deserve to go like this. The person who killed my dad took away a part of me. My dad went through everything for us. He took away my father. He took away the opportunity of me being with him in his last moments and it’s heartbreaking. I hope they find the murderer soon.”

If you have any information on the shooting please call Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

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