Things That Matter

The Internet Is Cheering This Former Bus Boy Who Is Now Running His Own Sushi Restaurant

For almost 15 years, Edgar Baca worked as a busser at Nobu Malibu, a high-end Japanese restaurant established by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, until he was finally able to open his own restaurant ⁠— Mariscos y Sushi Los Tomateros

Baca delivers high-quality seafood, making this a great spot for those who want to indulge in delicious sushi or Sinaloan mariscos.

Credit: Yelp.com

Baca worked in the same position as a busser for nearly 15 years, hoping to see the day when he would be able to open his restaurant. Those years gave him the necessary skills to create exquisite dishes that are satisfying, visually appetizing and most importantly – affordable. 

Inspired from the innovative cuisine at Nobu, Baca creates creative sushi dishes with a Mexican twist.

Credit: mariscosysushitomateros / Instagram

For example, the Guamuchilito roll that is stuffed with seafood and topped with avocado and tampico sauce is named after a town in Culiacán, Mexico. Another roll they have is the strawberry roll that has shrimp tempura, cucumber, strawberries, and tamarindo sauce. However, sushi isn’t the only item served at this restaurant. The menu at Los Tomateros also consists of traditional Mexican dishes, such as ceviche, tacos, molcajete, aguachile and so much more. 

As an immigrant from Culiacán, Baca pays homage to his hometown with his restaurant and food, dropping little hints of his home throughout.

For example, the logo of Los Tomateros is a tomato with chopsticks, as the tomato is a prominent vegetable grown in Sinaloa. Los Tomateros is also the name of a popular baseball team in Culiacán. Baca is proud to show off his roots and is unafraid to experiment with traditional and well-known recipes to create the items on his menu.  

Baca is also cooking for people like him as the average meal at Nobu costs about $30-$60.

Credit: Yelp.com

Although the menu at Mariscos y Sushi Los Tomateros doesn’t consist of Rosemary Panko Crusted New Zealand Lamb Chop’s or Scallop Truffle Chips, Los Tomateros brings a little taste of Sinaloa to Los Angeles.

However, Baca does carry Yellowtail Yusu in his restaurant.

Credit: mariscosysushitomateros / Instagram

The Yellowtail Yusu dish that Los Tomateros serves is similar to a popular item found on the Nobu Malibu menu that is approximately $30. The dish is expensive, but Baca is able to recreate it beautifully for less and introduce it to folks in the community that may never have the opportunity to dine at Nobu. Baca is establishing his own spin on sushi, proving that you don’t have to go an expensive restaurant to get delicious and high-quality seafood. 

Mariscos y Sushi Los Tomateros is the outcome of years of sacrifice, savings, and hard work. 

In the beginning, Baca worked two shifts at Nobu and faced sleepless nights to make his restaurant a reality. Baca started small, first cooking from his home for his coworkers at Nobu the traditional Mexican dishes they craved, then he began cooking for celebrities. His determination to make his business and delicious food did not go unnoticed as he has catered events for famous Mexican figures, such as soccer player Carlos Vela. 

At some points in his career, Baca struggled to keep his restaurant afloat and was left without electricity or the money to buy the proper ingredients to cook his dishes. He would call his relatives for help, asking for funds to maintain his business. All this to keep his dream alive. 

Baca’s goal to own his own restaurant and be the boss of his locale is a goal that is shared by many immigrants around the United States.

After all, it is the American dream to have your own business, but it is not easy to obtain. Baca demonstrated a lot of patience as he stayed at the same job for almost 15 years to make Mariscos y Sushi Los Tomateros happen. However, it’s more than just having the money to fund your business. Baca has the skill to mix traditional cuisines together to create something amazing. Moreover, the knowledge from working at Nobu allows him to cook exquisite meals. It was not easy for Baca to get to where he is today as it took years before he was able to see the fruits of his labor materialize, but it did eventually happen. Baca fought hard to keep his dream afloat and did not let the setbacks hinder his success as an entrepreneur.

If you find yourself in the Lynwood, California area, make sure to check out Mariscos y Sushi Los Tomateros and try some of their mariscos that are 100% Sinaloense! 

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

indyamoore / Instagram

While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

Hispanic Heritage Month Is Meant To Celebrate Spanish-Speaking Cultures, But What Does That Mean In The Age Of Trump?

Culture

Hispanic Heritage Month Is Meant To Celebrate Spanish-Speaking Cultures, But What Does That Mean In The Age Of Trump?

This week is the start of a month long commemoration of Latino culture as Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, kicks off across the U.S. Compared to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of a month. This is due to September 15 and 16 marking the independence days of Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

The annual observance started back in in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson’s administration as a one-week celebration called Hispanic Heritage Week. It wouldn’t be until years later that President Ronald Reagan proposed extending this celebration into a month-long event. On Aug. 17, 1988, it was put into law officially designating the 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

But in the age of Trump where anti-Latino sentiments run high, what does this month truly represent beyond just a marketing opportunity for companies to cash in on our culture?

Credit:@itseduardosolis/Twitter

For the next few weeks, Latinos will be at the forefront when it comes to “representation”. In other words, Latinos will be involved in marketing campaigns, corporate social media accounts will attempt to tweet in Spanish and sugar skulls will be all the rage at your local Target. That’s Hispanic Heritage Month in 2019 and something doesn’t seem right about that. 

The problem with Hispanic Heritage Month is that it represents almost everything that our culture isn’t about. That starts with the name itself, Hispanic, which came into use after the 1980 Census to refer to Spanish and Latin American descendants living in the U.S. It’s this lumping of all Latino people under the Hispanic umbrella, whether it applies to us or not, that is problematic. It leaves out countless of groups of people like those who identify as Afro-Latino or Indigenous that are constantly overlooked or never given any representation whatsoever. 

Beyond just the name, the question of it’s purpose and its meaning in this day and age also comes into play. In reality, most Latinos don’t need a month to be acknowledged or be at the forefront of a marketing campaign to feel accepted. Most celebrate their cultural pride every single day.

Hispanic Heritage Month was created by and promoted by the U.S. government to show that we “arrived” as people in this country. Yet in the 31 years since HHM started, Latinos have more than just arrived. We have made ourselves at home and have contributed to U.S. culture, science and art in ways that deserve more than just a month when brands pander to us. 

While some look at Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to celebrate maybe it can serve a better purpose by letting us tell our own narrative for once. 

Credit:@ric_galvan/Twitter

The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month needs a reboot rather than some faux-celebration about ethnic representation. Instead, the month should focus on how to move our communities forward and how we can share our own narratives and stories. 

For a population group that makes up 18.1% of the total U.S. population, representation has been hard to come by in recent years. The majority of this visibility has been succumbed to President Trump’s antipathy towards Latinos and demonization of migrant groups coming from the Southern border. Then came Aug. 3, when a shooter inspired by the President Trump anti-Latino rhetoric killed 22 people in El Paso. The deadly shooting sent shock waves to Latino communities across the country and placing fear in the minds of many. While this isn’t the first time Latinos have been targeted, the attack represented divisiveness that has once again reared it’s ugly head. 

Yet instead of living in fear, the best response can only be one of visibility and solidarity. The truth of the matter is that Latinos never needed government validation or permission to share our heritage, no matter what month of the year it may be. 

Rather than waste a month grasping onto what others perceive us as, we should embrace our own stories and bring to light the issues we face everyday. In reality, no month long celebration will ever validate our experiences or our stories. But as long as we have the platform, let’s make the best use of it and share our own narratives for once. 

READ: Latinos Are Still Waiting For Their Own Movie Moment As Hollywood Tries Casting More Diverse Films