On the West coast of Mexico is the state of Michoacán whose name means "the place of the fisherman". Every year migrating monarch butterflies travel here to their favored winter grounds (a personal dream trip). Rumor has it that Michoacán hosts the most elaborate Day of the Dead celebrations. While Michoacán is known for many crops, the state produces 92% of the country's avocados and is the world's leader in avocado production. The Mayans believed their deceased ancestors would come back as avocado trees, so they planted them all around their homes to keep their ancestors alive.
In modern times, we have more ways to keep the memories of our ancestors alive besides planting avocado trees (not recommended if you live in Michigan). Photographs, videos, memorials, and stories are all common ways we honor those before us. However, some people find bolder ways to honor their roots and to plant their metaphorical avocado tree. Some people are brave enough to open a restaurant to share their culture, heritage, and family recipes with others. That's exactly what the husband and wife team from Michoacán, Sandra and Jose, did by opening Taqueria de Mariscos El Primo in Hartford, Michigan.
While Michoacán is about 3,200 miles away from Michigan, Taqueria de Mariscos El Primo is only 35 miles away from my location in Kalamazoo. So, last week, I traveled to the little town of Hartford on assignment to visit Taqueria Mariscos El Primo and meet with Sandra and Jose.
The flavors and artifacts of Michoacán were everywhere from authentic seafood dishes overflowing with vibrant green avocados to artwork and sculptures from a world away.
While Sandra was busy taking orders and delivering them to their loyal customers, Jose was in the kitchen with his crew, preparing sizzling hot fajitas, tender carnitas and street tacos.
As this beautiful display of teamwork continued between Jose and Sandra, customers indulged in homemade tortilla chips with fresh salsas and queso and added sauces to their dishes...
while other customers selected between classic refreshments and novelty ice cream treats in the restaurant coolers.
As you can see, Jose and Sandra have planted their avocado tree right here (aqui) in Hartford. Not only have they kept the culture and heritage of Michoacán alive, they have found a way to share it with others. Thank you, Sandra and Jose, for sharing your story with me and our community.
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