Hispanic traditions thrive at Anaya’s
On Bonanza Drive, in a plain white building that looks like a storage trailer, Hispanic food grocery store Anaya’s Market thrives. Filled with products shipped in from Mexico, a traditional carniceria (meat market), panaderia (bread and pastry shop) and taqueria (restaurant), Anaya’s bustles with both regular customers and those looking for traditional Mexican specialties.
The taqueria, significantly expanded over the last year, features tamales, a traditional meal of either chicken, pork or beans wrapped in corn maize enveloped in cornhusks.
Hispanic tradition features tamales during the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Eve along with side dishes like atole – a rice pudding-like dessert – and a fresh cup of champurrado, which is hot chocolate-based atole, prepared with corn flour, milk, cinnamon and anise seed.
Julia Anaya, who shares a last name but is unrelated to store-owner Gidalgo Anaya, sat at a white, plastic table in the taqueria area as a Tejano song played over the loudspeakers, the accordion, bass, guitar and brass quartet providing the background for a man singing in Spanish. Chefs worked behind the counter, cutting meat up into small pieces to fill corn tortillas topped with grilled onions and cilantro.
"When we first opened the taqueria about seven years ago, the food was excellent," she said. "A few years after that it wasn’t that great, but with the workers we have now, it’s getting back to where we were when we started."
Anaya has been an employee at the market for 10 years, beginning five years after she moved to Salt Lake City from Mexico City, Tenochtitlan in Mexico. Anaya said the tradition of tamales on Christmas and New Year’s Eve is mostly because "it lends itself to the cold weather."
"Champurrado is a warm drink, and the tamales are hot out of the steamer," Anaya said. "So around this time of year, we see a lot of customers coming in to buy the ingredients to make tamales or buying them made at the taqueria."
To make tamales, Anaya said, customers need corn flour, lard, salt, cornhusks and whatever type of meat they would like to place in the tamales. Those who have never made tamales before can buy them premade by the dozen.
The taqueria also sells hot caldo de res, or beef stew. The tacos de lengua are made from beef tongue, a Mexican delicacy, as well as cachetes de barbacoa, or barbecue beef cheeks. Chicarrones pork skins quesadillas and burritos can also be purchased at the taqueria year-round.
The panaderia sells fresh cakes, sweet bread and other pastries, "for quinceaneras, weddings or whatever other parties they are needed for," Anaya said. The carniceria sells fresh cuts of beef, pork and chicken as well as seafood to make other Hispanic dishes.
Anaya said the Mexican-brand products they sell in the store come from a company in California. She said that while most workers in the market primarily speak Spanish, they are happy to help any customers that walk in the door to find what they are looking for.
"We have a grand culture that we are proud of and proud to have others experience," she said, "and we are here to serve our customers."
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