South Philly Barbecue, the dream of a MexicanBy Valeria Bigurra Peñavera
What began as a woman's dream, today became one of the best new restaurants in the United States
Cristina Martinez is a Mexican woman who in 2006 was forced to travel to the United States to work for a year and thus be able to help her family, however by chance fortunes in 2009 she had to return to Philadelphia, but this time to stay.
Her story began as many undocumented immigrants, she had to cross the desert, drink dirty water, sleep in the cold and walk in the rain to reach her destination, she knew that that road involved putting her life at risk, but she had a dream, and she was not going to stop until reaching it.
Currently Martinez owns a small restaurant called South Philly Barbacoa from Philadelphia, which is considered one of the best new restaurants of 2016 in the United States, because according to the gastronomic magazine "Bon Appétit", the barbecue, the tacos and the soup that they serve are one of the ten most delicious meals in the country.
This distinction has put the South Philly Barbacoa Restaurant as the sixth best new restaurant in the country during the year, and for Martinez means that all the difficulties that she had to face to get there were worth it, because today she can see that dream she once had, as a reality right before her eyes.
Cristina learned to cook Barbacoa thanks to her parents, and with 27 years of experience in this dish, she learned to see the need that Philadelphia had to have a place that would provide food and coffee to workers who left their homes at four in the morning and found no place open.
For her, the restaurant, rather than providing a service to the population that seeks a good barbecue, represents her community and her Mexican town of Capula, where she grew up, and sees this adventure that she lives today as a blessing for her, as it is a privilege that her food has reached the world and that today her history serves as an inspiration for all the migrants.
Currently the situation of the undocumented in the United States is complicated due to the recent elections; nevertheless Martínez assures that "a single man cannot break the life of so many people".
South Philly Barbacoa is a small but cozy place, decorated with colorful mosaics and Mexican art that comes from Mexico, and only operates on weekends, when people traditionally consume this dish in its country of origin.
The preparation of Barbacoa is a complicated process, since the lamb should be marinated between five and eight hours and later it is cooked in a pot for four or five more hours, to make the meat soft.
The restaurant opened just a year and a half ago thanks to the support of a client and friend of Martinez, who lends the local, however the dream began in her small apartment, and continued for a year and a half more in a food cart through the streets of Philadelphia, until one day she got her own space.
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