MANHATTAN, New York.- In 1998, Alejandra Aco left the Mexican state of Puebla and with her five- and six-year-old children crossed the border because she was sure that she would succeed in New York City as a successful businesswoman ; Almost two decades later she can say that she has achieved it.
“We arrived as undocumented immigrants and empty-handed, but with a heart full of dreams,” she recalled before emphasizing that in the process, “I have not asked the City of New York for anything, on the contrary, I have contributed with my Dedicated work “.
According to her, the road to establish her Villa Cemita restaurant , in the East Village neighborhood , was thorny. That is why it is always May 5 – the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla – because “every day I am fighting. I struggle with the kitchen and conquer with the best food. ”
At age 39, two children graduated from college and another to enter high school, Alejandra Aco said that the new generations of Mexicans and Latinos are changing the face of the United States and the Big Apple.
“My business is a victory for my family and my community. Every afternoon, when I open the door, I’m creating job opportunities, “she said. With one year of service, Villa Cemita employs a dozen people and continues to grow.
Aco opened Villa Cemita with the purpose of offering authentic poblano food to its compatriots and educating non-Mexicans about ancestral recipes, such as the nopal salad , made with the pre-Hispanic ingredient “Tequesquite” , a mineral that retains the color of the food.
The poblana cemita , a kind of bread made with sesame cold sandwich, is one of the most popular among non – Mexican clients of East Village dishes. Its secret is chipotle chili, spiced with various spices and simmered for eight hours with panela (cane molasses) and cinnamon.
“It’s a recipe my family has been cooking for generations,” Aco said. “It’s an endless satisfaction to see when customers enjoy that unique flavor, between spicy and sweet.”
Another dish in demand of Villa Cemita is the mole poblano , that respects the recipe of Century XVI of 32 ingredients , all imported from Puebla by Aco.
“I wanted to perpetuate the recipes of my family. It is a privilege that my grandmother and my mother transmitted to me until the last cooking secret,” she said. “This is my way of making a mark in New York.”
Well yes, according to figures from the Mexican Consulate, 60% of Mexican immigrants in New York are Puebla. It is estimated that 1.4% of the 5.78 million poblanos live in the United States, the vast majority in the Big Apple.