Jalapenos Market Visit proves Red-hot!

            The quiet ambiance in Jalapenos Latin Market, located at 7128 Ritchie Hwy in Glen Burnie, Maryland, allows for comfortable shopping of the many aisles and refrigerated cases. While browsing the extensive butcher’s cases and ample produce area, one is treated to the sounds of the butcher’s choice of music. On the day, I visited the market with my husband, I could feel a smile spread across my face as I recognized a familiar tune: one of my favorite Mexican rock bands, Mana, was playing in the background. Above our heads, festive piñatas greeted us while tempting us to bring one home to our toddler. The sight of an older man in a chef’s coat purchasing a few items is a testament to the usefulness of this store to nearby hospitality businesses. In fact, I spied a product that I will be returning soon to purchase:  long plantain chips called mariquitas for my HRM251 tableside dining project. Open daily from 6am to 11pm, the market’s extended hours accommodate stay at home parents as well as customers who work odd hours. Although one must pay for the deli & dessert counter items in cash, credit cards and other payment options are available at the regular register. In fact, my husband pointed out that the store probably has a credit card reader in consideration for customers who use WIC or food stamps. This theory is certainly consistent with the textbook’s assertion that apparently many Latino immigrants and their descendants receive government assistance.

            According to the deli & dessert counter attendant, a variety of freshly made tamales are made early every morning, cook all day, and are available for purchase by 6pm. Mole poblano, red and green salsas, guacamole, cheeses, Mexican crema, tres leches cake, coconut or vanilla-flavored flans are among the delicious treats made in-house and available at the deli & dessert case. In the butcher’s case, even more exotic delights await the customer including pig feet and ears, tripe, chicken feet, gizzards and livers, marinated skirt steak, whole & filleted fish, shrimp with heads still attached. Additional items offered on large placards but not seen included rabbit, pork neck and cheeks, and my personal favorite beef tongue. Personal care products, a variety of teas used as home remedies and even a small pharmacy counter are located near the back door, and the refrigerated cases hold a wide variety of fresh dairy products including Mexican crema, cheeses, and yogurt smoothies. Frozen cases are stuffed with many kinds of cornmeal dough delights that were discussed in chapter 9 & 10 in the text such as tamales, humitas, arepas, as well as frozen fruit pulps, 6-packs of frozen whole quail, and most noteworthy of all, cashew fruits imported from El Salvador with the stem that we know as the cashew nut, still attached. Until now, I was under the impression that cashew fruits were too perishable to export. Surprisingly, we found none of the religious items for sale one would expect in a Latin market such as prayer candles in glass cylinders decorated with picture of saints. However, phone cards from Digicel and Intermex, another common item in Latin markets, are available for sale. Typically used for both medicinal and culinary purposes, dried chiles and a huge variety of dried herbs and spices line one of the front walls. Some even seem as though they may have even been packaged in store. In the aisles, one can find American brands and products such as Heinz ketchup and Nestle Nesquik intermingled with Hispanic brands and products. Some of these include Fabuloso cleaning products, Suavitel fabric softener, Carlos V & Abuelita chocolate, Sello Rojo coffee, Nescafe, Cerelac, many types of corn meal, lard, corn husks, pure sugar cane, nopales, typical Salvadorian pineapple cake, dried beans, rice, prickly pears, Jarritos beverages, Jumex fruit juices, Rio Grande, Maggi, and, of course, the ubiquitous Goya. In fact, Café Bustelo which is favored by Cuban immigrants, comes in a variety of sizes including the enormous ‘party size.’

            The variety of Hispanic brands and products at reasonable prices impressed my husband and me so much that we spent over $27 and plan to become regular customers of the store. Because of my Colombian heritage, the language barrier with employees who may not know English will not be a problem. We purchased, and have so far been enjoying, the following items:  two horchatas for the ride home, a 6-pack of Colombiana sodas which are a favorite of mine, freshly-prepared guacamole, mini-mantecada cakes from Bimbo, a vanilla-flavored flan, Colombian cheese-filled arepas, a guava-flavored Jarritos beverage for my husband, Abarrotera Central marshmallows, and Ducales crackers. As far as cultures and countries represented in the store, one could safely say that Jalapenos market carries items from most Central American countries, as well as from Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and the U.S. protectorate, Puerto Rico. I highly recommend a visit the next time a hankering for some delicious Hispanic foods hits! The phone number of the market is (410) 766-6869.

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