For Salvadorans in metro Phoenix, pupuserías make for community centers

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For Salvadorans in metro Phoenix, pupuserías make for community centers
For Salvadorans in metro Phoenix, pupuserías make for community centers

Lee en español Jessica Blanco was just 13 years old when she moved to Phoenix from her home in El Salvador. It was 2011. When she arrived she didn’t know anyone; her entire family was nearly 2,500 miles away. “I felt very separate when I moved here, not just physically. I tried to join a community, you know, everyone wants that, but I haven’t seen many Salvadorans here in Arizona. I didn’t meet Salvadorans in middle or high school, ”she explained. However, through eating, many Salvadorans born in the United States and abroad have been able to gain a sense of the community in which they grew up with their families here and with those they left behind in El Salvador. There is a huge population of Latinos on Metro Phoenix. According to the US census, nearly 43% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. The majority, however, are Mexicans, a situation that was influenced by the many Mexicans who lived in the area long before the borders were established, and by the mass migration flows that increased in El Salvador in 1940’s as its civil war began to unfold . California has the largest number of overseas Salvadorans – more than 700,000 according to the 2019 US census. Arizona, by comparison, had fewer than 20,000 Salvadoran residents in the same period. For many, like Blanco, upon arrival it proved difficult to find a parish in Phoenix that was in harmony with their Salvadoran roots. According to the owners of Pupuserías in the valley, the food from their homeland helps create a meeting place for them. According to Miriam Ramírez, owner of El Salvadoreño # 2 restaurant on 75th Avenue and Thomas Road in Phoenix, ordering a Pupusa made from Loroco is a strong indication that you are Salvadoran how they order their pupusas. Not many know what Loroco is, said Ramírez. It’s an aromatic flower that grows in El Salvador, and when mixed with the cheese and warm corn batter that makes a pupusa, it gives the dish a unique and delicious taste. Restaurants, like the chain she runs with her daughter Yesenia Ramírez, serve as meeting points for Salvadoran families who find this connection to their culture in the kitchen of their country. “There are second or third generation Salvadorans. You may not see them on the street.” They can’t be recognized at first sight with a flag, “said Yesenia Ramírez.” But when you see a Pupusas restaurant, you remember the food your grandmother prepared for you, and you quickly associate those flavors with it their traditions, their culture, their family. “Pupusas were declared the national dish of El Salvador in 2005. The second Sunday in November was declared National Pupusa Day. Authentic Salvadoran restaurants are not too difficult to find around the valley. Most are but found in Phoenix. Miriam Ramírez’s Salvadoreño chain of restaurants operates in Phoenix, Mesa and El Mirage, with a sixth location soon in Tempe. Other restaurants such as the Guañaquitos restaurant, the Salvadoreño y Pupuseria Los 3 Hermanos restaurant and the restaurant Reina de las Pupusas is also located in Phoenix, it opened its doors in 2002 and has served thousands of Latinos and non-Latinos in the valley rt. But the culinary ingenuity of Salvadorans has gone further and over time the dish has had endless flavors including chicken, chorizo, ham, meat and even shrimp. “We make some with hot peppers and cheese, which are delicious and Phoenix customers love.” they, ”said Yesenia Ramírez. The pupusas are accompanied by a pickled mixture of cabbage, carrots, chilli, onions and vinegar. Unlike major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, which are home to hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Phoenix has no designated neighborhood or area where the Salvadoran community is concentrated doing business there; a lot of markets that make you feel like you are in your hometown, “said Yesenia Ramírez.” That is missing here in the Phoenix area. There are many Salvadorans here, but we are all scattered. The valley is very large and wide, and there is no specific place where we live or meet. ”Dr. Cecilia Menjívar, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, has focused her research on the Central American experience in the United States To understand Salvadoran visibility in the greater Phoenix area, we need to understand the reasons for family migration here, she said. Menjívar has documented the history of Central American immigration to the US and shows how political and economic difficulties have been in the current migration patterns in the 1970s In her scientific study “The Power of the Law: Legality and Daily Life of Central Americans in Phoenix , Arizona “explains Dr. Menjívar that “although the political conflicts in El Salvador were officially ended in 1992”. and Guatemala in 1996, immigration from both countries has continued and is now compounded by the high levels of unemployment, underemployment and high violence associated with the “common crime” in Central America, the environment in which Central Americans live today Menjívar explains in her work, ants affect the daily lives of immigrant ants from places like El Salvador, including their ability to create community. Like Mexicans and immigrants from other Central and South American countries, Salvadorans tend to come to the US for a maximum of two years, to provide for their families in this way, and to go home soon after. They do this “to make money and return to their hometown, but over time most choose to stay,” said Miriam Ramírez Roots. What we do (in the US) is remember to keep our roots alive, ”she said. Enrique Meléndez, a member of the El Salvador diplomatic corps and former Honorary Consul of El Salvador in Phoenix, said that the Salvadorans in Mesa. Concentrated are Phoenix and Tucson. And despite their small number in Arizona, Salvadorans have teamed up with other Latinos in the area, especially Mexicans. “The Salvadorans in Arizona are very sociable … and respect other nationalities. Many of them are very hardworking and develop different professions – similar to Mexicans, Hondurans and (people from) other Latin American countries, ”Meléndez said is like Mexican culture is very widespread, “he said. Banco, 23, said that due to the lack of knowledge from other Latinos in her country, she spends some time educating those around her about her identity. The hegemony of Mexican Identity about what a Latino should look and be like in Phoenix – and in the US – enforces this type of unskilled environment for Salvadorans and other Latinos. “I think the extinction of Central America is something important that I realized while trying to navigate different groups,” she said. Kenneth Velásquez, originally from Tucson, moved to Tempe to study architecture at Arizona State University. Like Blanco, he said he wasn’t very exposed to other Salvadorans on Metro Phoenix. “I would say that while I was able to connect a lot with the Latino community, but not so much with other Salvis in particular,” he said. Velásquez is the eldest son of immigrant parents from El Salvador. His family’s immigration history illustrates some of the patterns of the Central American immigrants in recent years His mother was granted temporary protection status in 1999 and moved to Arizona shortly afterwards His father arrived in 2008 and continues to send money transfers to El Salvador to support the family I don’t feel he’s a community here among other Salvadorans: “I have no real connection with the Salvi community here,” he explained. Velásquez’s experience is one that Miriam and Yesenia Ramírez understand. Because of this, restaurants that specialize in El Salvadoran cuisine to “keep their roots alive” provide the space Salvadoreños crave for community, they said One of them was in Tucson and then Los Angeles, Valley Salvadoran restaurants offer their dining rooms as venues for consular services when Tucson employees visit Salvadoran culture. The event usually falls around the celebrated Pupusa Day. This year it will take place on November 13th at the Roosevelt 16 Cultural Center (1650 E Roosevelt St.) in Phoenix. The event is organized by the Cultivo Market Collective. The event promotes Salvadoran cuisine from local restaurants, traditional live music, typical El Salvadorian dances, art exhibitions by local Salvadoran creatives and other activities. “We met many of the people with whom we have developed a good relationship either in the restaurant or at events like the Pupusa Festival,” said Miriam Ramírez. “That’s the aim of this festival: bringing people together and promoting our culture, and so far it has worked for us.” Reach La Voz reporter Raphael Romero Ruiz at rromeroruiz@lavozarizona.com and editor Javier Arce at javier.arce @ lavozarizona .com. Follow them on Twitter @raphaeldelag and @ javierarce33 and support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

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