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Authentic taste of Mexico comes to Durango

Empanada craving? Head to Eighth Ave.

Esmeralda “Chiquita” Garcia, 3, eyes a lollipop while her father, Vicente Garcia, discusses his recently opened store on East Eighth Avenue, Chiquita’s, named after Esmeralda’s nickname. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Esmeralda “Chiquita” Garcia, 3, eyes a lollipop while her father, Vicente Garcia, discusses his recently opened store on East Eighth Avenue, Chiquita’s, named after Esmeralda’s nickname.

Vicente García, a transplanted New Mexican, has brought a number of traditional Old Mexico food products to Durango.

The store – Chiquita’s – named for his 3-year-old daughter, opened Aug. 1 in the plaza at 509 East Eighth Ave.

The list of food stuffs includes traditional Mexican candies such as mazapán; chicharrón (deep-fried pork skin); jamaica (dried hibiscus blossoms) to make a thirst-quenching drink; and traditional Mexican bottled soft drinks.

He also sells beef jerky that his father makes from cattle he raises in Albuquerque.

On Saturday, he offers freshly baked conchas, gusanos and empanadas – Mexican sweet rolls that he makes himself in a commercial kitchen.

García, who has a degree in business education from the University of New Mexico, came to Durango six years ago.

He arrived, supported by a mariachi band, to propose to Teresa Rodríguez – a biochemistry major at Fort Lewis College. She accepted.

They married and have a 3-year-old daughter nicknamed Chiquita, who was named in honor of a grandmother several generations removed on her mother’s side.

Rodríguez, a student adviser in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program at FLC, helps out in the store when she has time.

A little further along, García wants to stock piñatas and the prepackaged bags of goodies that fill them.

He also would like to be a source of Bimbo bakery products.

“But my long-term dream is to own a butcher shop,” García said.

The couple was cautious in preparing to open Chiquita’s.

“We read a lot online about how to start a business,” García said. “We had to go through so much to get a business license, a license to sell bread and get state and city sales-tax documents.

“It’s amazing how much they didn’t teach me in school,” García said. “We decided to take a chance. If we fail, we can at least say, ‘We tried.’”

daler@durangoherald.com

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