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ALa Huerta Fresh Produce t La Huerta Fresh Produce on Kerr Avenue, large bins display everything from the mundane, like apples, to the esoteric, like malanga, a root vegetable common in Cuban cuisine. Owner Jesus Trejo travels every week to wholesale markets in Raleigh and South Carolina to bring back produce for his shop, named The Garden, in English. Trejo says his customers are primarily a mixture of Americans, Mexicans and Hondurans, each with his or her own buying patterns: tortillas and jalapeños for the Mexicans; yucca and green plantains for the Hondurans; and, for the Americans, “a lot of kale.” But some curious American customers also want to recreate meals they’ve enjoyed in Mexican restaurants or while traveling. “They come in and they ask how to make it,” Trejo says. One tip: crumble the queso fresco from the dairy case over dishes like enchi-ladas as a last-minute garnish. “In the Mexican restaurants they melt it,” Trejo says of the mild, white cheese. “In Mexico, no, we do not melt it. We crumble it. That is the real way.” Among the more unusual items for sale are frozen cashew apples, fruit-like growths attached to cashew nuts, which Trejo says are used to make a drink in parts of Central America. Shoppers can also scoop up garbanzos verde, green chickpeas, and roast them for a snack, or buy a bundle of tropical heliconia leaves to use as wrappers for steamed tamales. La Huerta carries traditional Hispanic spices, both pre-packaged and bulk. The market prides itself on fresh fruits and vegetables, giving folks a real fresh market feel. Clockwise, from top: Jicama; green tomatillos; Gabriella Gutierrez, daughter of owner Jesus Trejo, greets shoppers with a smiling face and helps find items. Opposite, center: Obscure produce, such as malanga, is a potato substitute. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Tamale spices; fresh guajes, which can be shelled and roasted for a sunflower seed-like treat; Alberto Trejo stocks fresh stalks of sugar cane; and fresh red tomatillos, which are great in soups and salsas. 86 WBM february 2015


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