Vendedor Jose’s

Back in mid-September, I decided to visit my parents in South Central, L.A. for the weekend. Feeling hungry after finally getting home, I headed straight for the kitchen and was surprised by all of the fresh and delicious looking produce they’d bought: organic nectarines, strawberries, and blueberries to name a few. Knowing that blueberries are particularly pricey, I was especially surprised to see them in the fridge. Apparently, they had decided to do their shopping for the week at a Trader Joe’s in Glendale. Needless to say everything they’d bought tasted phenomenal. I’d heard of Trader Joe’s many times before, but had never actually gone grocery shopping there before. It’s not the kind of grocery store you’d normally find where we come from;.Typically, Latino working class families aren’t familiar with Trader Joe’s or can’t regularly afford the high quality organic products it purveys.

Most often, Latino working class communities are hardwired by economic necessity to satisfy nutritional needs as fully and as cost effectively as possible. This usually means healthy, quality food choices, and healthy eating habits must be sacrificed for more accessible and convenient options: the most convenient and affordable being the Taco Bells, McDonald’s, Burger Kings, and KFCs so ubiquitous in our communities. Some of these chains have even attempted to market themselves as being much healthier than they actually are. McDonald’s and Burger King even offer real fruit smoothies and salads alongside the much more tempting and savory heart-attacks on buns.

According to the California Law Review, Latino communities are victims of “food oppression” and as these fast food chains continue to expand and profit from socially underserved communities, supermarkets providing healthier choices have simultaneously moved to more affluent areas.

While home cooked meals are definitely an effective alternative, sometimes it’s just more financially practical for families living on a budget to eat out.  As a child, whenever my mother or grandmother made a home-cooked meal, I remember being encouraged to eat as much as possible in one sitting. This is exactly why by the time I was ten, I started getting stretch marks and my mother had to start buying me clothes from the children’s husky aisle. In other words, I was a little chubby.

Latino youth ages 12-17 are the most at risk for becoming obese and are the most likely to be overweight. Latinos in California have the highest rates of obesity and type-two diabetes within the overall population.

According to the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, seven out of ten Latino adults in California are obese, and diseases associated with obesity (e.g. heart disease, cancer, diabetes) account for nearly 60% of all deaths within the Latino Community. (Latino Coalition for a Healthy California)

Not even considering the regularity with which my family consumed fast food, Abuela’s “Huevos con chorizo y pancais” breakfasts in the mornings were compounded by Mama’s “you need to grow big and strong, I didn’t know she meant round two” dinners in the evening. Both of them had a way of guilt tripping me into eating more when I just didn’t want any.

The food was unbelievably delicious of course, but it was as if they’d trained me to go beyond a healthy limit. My nutrition Nazi of a mother would never miss a chance to tell me I needed to eat my meat because when she was growing up in the pueblo, they hardly ever had money for it. It was a stomach rupturing catch-22. If I didn’t eat the meat, I was being wasteful since a whole village of Mexican kids were suffering from malnutrition at this hour, and if I did eat the meat, those same children were still starving while a Mexican-American kid stuffed his fat face.

According to LCHC, the incidence of obesity (20%) is nearly twice as high for U.S born Latinos than it is for non-U.S born Latinos. (LCHC) Furthermore,  CLR conducted a study on Mexican immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley showed that within one generation of emigration, fast food consumption within the Mexican population increased five times leading to a decline in nutrition and increase in weight. (CLR)

The weekend of my visit to my parent’s, after I’d been able to enjoy some of the produce they’d bought from the previous week, I decided to go with them to do their shopping for the upcoming week at the same Trader Joe’s in Glendale.

While in that Trader Joe’s, far from South Central, I noticed how healthy I felt, how young and lively my body moved and bounded up and down the aisles of organic fruits, breads, and chocolates. The other shoppers were mostly well to do Euro-Americans with very healthy figures in comparison to my parents. But there we were and in our rightful place I’ll add, finally enjoying the hard won fruits of a long and mostly unhealthy lifestyle war.

If only the businessmen behind Trader Joe’s had decided to target the growing Latino market when I was growing up with something like Vendedor Jose’s.




Vegetarian No More!

April 24, Easter Sunday, was the last day of Lent, a day I’ve been looking forward to since I promised to give up meat 40 days before.  I am vegetarian no more!

What did I break my Lent with?  My mother’s cooking.  I requested a traditional Jalisiciense mole with orange rice.

Red Mole with Orange Rice

Usually, participation in Lent results in a lesson learned.  I learned to choose healthier options, to be creative with my vegetables, and that sometimes, options are limited for vegetarians in Latino communities.

Even though I am not vegetarian, I would like to incorporate vegetarian reviews in my regular reviews and advocate for vegetarian options to restaurant when none are not available.

Con Amor,
La Boquisabrosa

La Boquisabrosa’s Update: Is she still a vegetarian?

Hello Food Lovers,

I am back from spring break and writing about what I love: food. However, before I embark on this task, I want to give you an update about my journey of vegetarianism during Lent.  Since March 9, I have been meat-free.

So you may ask, what are your staple foods?

I am not limited on food options as a vegetarian; everyday I try to cook new dishes.  Some of my consistent dishes include: herb rice, potatoes, asparagus, Margherite pizza, nachos, quesadillas, and more.

How many days do I have left?
16 days, then I will return slowly to my regular diet.

Being vegetarian has not been easy, even though I have done this for the past 5 years during lent.  My next blog article will be on the Latino definition of “vegetarian” and came about through certain experience that made it difficult to be vegetarian with my family. I continue to remain strong during these moments and will do so for the next 16 days.

Con amor,

La Boquisabrosa

Here is some food that I made.

La Boquisabrosa Becomes Meatless for Lent

In observance of Lent, I personally vowed to give up meat for 40 days. Today is my fifth day. My future blog post will feature vegetarian-friendly restaurants.  It will be a challenge for me to be meatless since I love meat, but, I will embrace the alternative lifestyle that many live by.
If any of you are vegetarian or just love vegetarian food, can you lend a helping hand by recommending which restaurants I should review? Please email me at [email protected] with the recommendations or any questions you have about my blog.  I always look forward to your recommendations.

Con amor,

La Boquisabrosa

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My Finals Craving

Hello everyone,

It is that time of the year again. I am talking about Finals Weeks, the most loathed week of the quarter. So what do students do best in Finals Week? Two things: find ways to procrastinate and eat. Yes, we have cravings, and often times they help us procrastinate. My problem is that I had a certain food in my mind.

Two years ago I went to Washington DC for journalism conference. Usually these conferences are all day, and by the time I got out, it was late. I heard of a strip of restaurants in Cleveland Park in Washington DC that usually open late until 2am. I decide to check it out. I stumble upon an Latino-inspired restaurant. The food was a mix of every Latin American country. I do not remember the name and I spent hours looking for it online, unable to find it.

The whole point of this is that the dessert I had at that restaurant will not leave my mind and consumes my studying hours.

The dessert I had was a deep fried cheesecake chimichanga with strawberry drizzle. Mmmm, it was delicious! Just the sound of deep fried chimichanga turn me off, but I decide to take a worthwhile risk. Unfortunately, I have not be able to find a restaurant that serves this yummy treat.

I am asking for all readers to help me find a restaurant that serves deep fried cheesecake chimichanga in Los Angeles to review.

Who is up to the task?

On that note, if you have a picture, video, or an article on your favorite dessert from a particular restaurant, please email me at [email protected] Or become a fan, on La Boquisabrosa Facebook Page.

Con amor,

La boquisabrosa

Something similar to this.

Restaurant Review: Juquila

After a week of midterms, I hopped on line 1 of the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, to find a hole in the wall to satisfy my hunger. “Tener hambre de león” (to be hungry as a lion), is how the saying goes in Latin America, and it suits the hunger I had. My intentions were to find the restaurant Churros Calientes, but traffic on Santa Monica Blvd just made me hungrier.  I decided to get off early.

I got off at Federal Ave and Santa Monica; in less than a block I found an Oaxaqueña restaurant called Juquila.  This restaurants claim to serve “authentica comida Oaxaqueña,” in other words the original food from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The environment was calming and the perfect place to have a relaxing dinner and sobremesa (conservation with friends).  I ordered a Camaron a la Diabla (Spicy Shrimp) served with Mexican rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo with a burrito style tortillas (handmade).

This dish was so fiery, that it can blaze your tongue.  Warning to readers, I love chile, and ordered the spicier option because I love when food makes you sizzle inside and to me it was delicious.  If you cannot handle that much heat, they have a milder option too.  The sauce of the Camarones a la Diabla was consistent, not too watery or too thick.

The rice was fluffy and the beans were perfectly mashed.  The guacamole was just avocados mashed with a hint of garlic, served with pico de gallo if you want to mix it together.  I like it separated because I just wanted the creamy texture of the avocados to help balance the spiciness of the Camarones.

I noticed most of usual clients ordered Parrillada Oaxaqueña.  This dish is a combination of oaxacan meats brought to you in a small grill with grilled chiles, onions, and black beans.

Unfortunely, I was not able to try it, since I was full with my dish.  Next time, it is on my Food bucketlist.

Juqila Restaurant is located at 11619 Santa Monica Blvd, West Los Angeles CA 90025. For more information, please visit their website.

If you are a UCLA student, take the SMC Big Blue Bus 1 or 2

Price: $: Comida Cómodo

Con Amor, la boquisabrosa,

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Restaurant Review: Gloria’s Café

A popular place to get your Latin Fusion is Gloria’s Café.  Gloria’s Café, a fusion of Mexican and Salvadorian cuisine, was pretty packed the Sunday afternoon I visited.

I ordered the homemade guacamole, as a starter.  It was creamy, as guacamole should be, but I disappointed at the size–it appeared to be just a scoop. For $4, that seems unfair.

Pupusas filled with pork and cheese

My main course was two pupusas revueltas, and two Mexican tamales.  I loved the enormous pupusas, which were about  5 inches in diameter. The pupusas revueltas were made of a corn masa (dough) filled with pork and cheese. The buttery crunchy texture of the dough complimented the cheesy, soft, meaty center.

Chicken with red salsa filled Tamales

However, the Mexican chicken tamales were dry. The red salsa had no flavor and did not provide enough juiciness. The chicken was arid, and it even overwhelmed the dryness of the holey masa.  When I think of Mexican chicken tamales, green sauce usually pops up, but they served the tamales with red salsa, which cut my cravings for it.

I invited a guest, to critique Gloria’s Café.  Susana Figueroa, a 4th-year international development studies student, is too familiar with the restaurant business, having working about seven years in multiple position such as waitress to kitchen aid.

She ordered the Salvadorian Plato Tipico.  This dish is served with one pupusa, yuca frita (fried yucca plant root), chicarron (fried pork rinds), curtido (pickled cabbage salad), platanos (fried bananas), rice and black beans.

Plato Tipico serve one pupusa, yucca frita , chicaron, curtido, platoons, rice and black beans.

La Boquisabrosa: “What did you like about the plate?”

Susana: “I like that it had a huge variety of food, and I like that I didn’t have to order a extra side of platanos, because it came with it.”

LB: “Do you like the plate?”
S: “Yes, I really like the plate.”
LB: “I know that you are half-Salvadorian.  Was the plate true to Salvadorian roots, or did [restaurant] play with it, since it is a fusion restaurant?”
S: “The [menu] said it was typical Salvadorian…[it] was true to what I’ve grown up with, the platanos, the pupusas, the beans, were all normal. And the yucca–that I’ve never tried before–was a good first time. It was really good.”
LB: “So do you recommend people to going there for a true Salvadorian plate?”

S: “Yes.”

Overall, my guest and I agree that Gloria’s Café is a delectable place for Salvadorian food and not so yummy on the Mexican side dishes.

Rating: $: Comida Cómodo

Gloria’s Café Website

Con Amor, la boquisabrosa,


P.S.  I am in the quest to find the perfectly yummy and true Salvadorian restaurant and any Latino or Latino-inspired restaurant.  If you know of a place, please feel to email me at [email protected]

Bella Vista Pizzeria

In the midst of the Venice Boulevard, between Sepulveda and Overland, stands a pizzeria  between a leather shoe store and a tattoo parlor.  What do they have all have in common?  They take pride in their Brazilian culture.  Bella Vista Pizzeria takes one of Italy’s greatest exports (pizza) and gives it a twist.  In Bella’s courtyard I’m surrounded by tall trees that semi-block the light from the window roof; beyond there were the cattle-skin chairs I sat in, setting up an image of the environment of Brazil.
I ordered their specialty: all-you-can-eat for only $12.99.  The workers will come to my table several times with different pizzas, serving you as many slices as you like.  I tried several types as follow:

Carne Seca
Dry beef, leeks, mozzarella cheese and black olives pizza.  I am not fan of the briney taste given off by the dry beef, which overwhelms the mozzarella.
A typical Italian margherita pizza made with mozzarella, parmesan, basil, and tomatoes.  It has the delicious classic taste of margherita, the only difference is the ingredients are exported from Brazil.
Mozzarella cheese, corn, mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper, and black olives.  A perfect option for vegetarians, the delightful taste of the bell pepper doesn’t overpower the taste of the other vegetables.
Mozzarella cheese, anchovies, tomatoes, black olives, oregano.   I usually dislike anchovies, but the taste of this pizza had such a zesty taste that I forgot I was eating them.
Beef  strogonoff and potato sticks.  Beef strogonoff is (Russian) sautéed beef. The combination with the potato sticks gives it a crunchy texture.  This is definitely on the top of my picks for pizza.
4 cheese
Mozzarella cheese, catupiry, provolone, and parmesan cheese.  This is the cheesiest of them all, and quite a delight. Catupiry, a cream cheese made in Brazil, makes this unique.
The classic is ok.  If you are eating here, I will advise you not to chose this option because it is like any other.
Rúcula com Tomate seco
Mozzarella di buffala, dried tomato, arugla. The aroma given by the arugla complements the sweet taste given by the dried tomato.  A must have.

If these taste are too much, the all-you-can-eat comes with dessert.  Not after finishing all of the pizzas they offer, but in between each round of pizza.

Banana com canela
Mozzarella cheese, banana, cinnamon.  At first when I heard that they make dessert pizza, I was pretty surprised.  The combination of the cheese, banana, and cinnamon is pleasant.
Brigadeiro com Morango
Chocolate and condensed milk, and strawberries.  It was first mouth-watering, but by the second bite the condensed milk and the chocolate give an overpowering taste of sweetness.  I don’t have such a sweet tooth, so this type of dessert is for the admirer of super sweets.

Overall, Bella is the place to discover new types of pizza, too mingle and to watch fútbol, if you are fan.  I recommend this place for exotic pizza.

Rating: $: Comida Cómodo
Com Amor (Con Amor), la boquisabrosa,

$: Ajy, it’s pocket friendly!
$$: Comida Cómoda
$$$: la dolorosa