hispanic markets

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“It was, like, Selenamania.”
When she was seventeen, Selena signed a one-year contract with Coca-Cola for $75,000 and was featured in English- and Spanish-language ad campaigns in Hispanic media markets across the country. Thanks to the growing popularity of the band and other Tejano acts, like La Mafia, Mazz, and Emilio, major record labels like EMI and Arista came to Texas to get in on the action, co-opting a once obscure regional genre. In 1988 backup singer Pete Astudillo joined Selena y Los Dinos and began collaborating with A.B. on a more danceable, cumbia-inspired sound that drew on elements of funk and hip-hop. The following year, a guitarist from San Antonio named Chris Perez joined the group as well, and soon band members were speculating about a romance between him and Selena.

La Placita, Shirley, NY

Another fantastic local find in Long Island this weekend…

When we got off the train at Mastic-Shirley, I noticed this blue building across the street from the station. As we were on a tight schedule, we couldn’t stop that day, but I made a mental note of the joint, hoping to check it out. After a glowing recommendation from one of our taxi drivers, we went back on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a fantastic lunch!

While it is in large part a Hispanic supermarket, La Placita has an incredible cafeteria style lunch counter serving foods from Central and South America…

Here’s a look…


I went for a mixed fried plate, with fried chicken and a fried pork chop over yellow rice with jalapeno pickled vegetables…

Mutsumi opted for their incredible oxtail stew over white rice with a flauta…

Another buddy got a seafood dish with local clams and mussels that was equally impressive!

These incredible and authentic dishes were the perfect way to help our hangovers and fill our bellies for the train ride home.


LA PLACITA

567 Surrey Circle

Shirley, NY 11967

631-772-1611

Congratulations on getting a job and graduating! And congrats on deciding to try veg again!

Here’s my very unofficial guide to cheap veg living :)

Money tips:

1. One of the biggest keys I think is buying in bulk. Bulk beans, rice, and wheat berries (or barley/farro/etc) are great bases for a lot of delicious not-boring meals. (Especially ones you can make in bulk and store for later meals like wheat salad or stir fry)

2. Good, inexpensive, and healthy protein options are whole grains, eggs, beans, and tofu. I especially like garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Learning to cook good-tasting tofu takes practice, but can be done. I basically just cut it into cubes and fry it in oil until it’s golden-brown. You can also marinade it like you would meat before you do this!

3. If you can, shop from Asian and Hispanic markets. They are usually half (or less) the price of your average grocery store and have tons of delicious spices, sauces, and veggies. The Asian place I shop at has everything from Chinese and Korean food to Indian and Thai food, plus really cheap humane eggs that come from the owner’s backyard-roaming chickens.

4. Eat seasonal produce as much as you can. This is where people feel like vegetarian/vegan diets get expensive, but they don’t have to be. Avoid getting spring/summer fruits in the dead of winter, and stick with dark leafy greens, winter gourds/squashes, and tomatoes while it’s still cold.

5. When you do shop at a regular grocery store, always buy the store brand over the name brand. There’s usually no difference and it’ll save you so much. Also, if you have one, Aldi’s is a magical wonderful grocery store full of cheap produce/other necessities.

Try and make sure any pastas you buy are whole grain, as they have a good deal of your daily protein needs. We also have a smoothie aficionado in the apartment, and he uses either peanut butter or protein powder to give it that extra kick. If you like bananas, there’s not much better than a peanut butter banana smoothie with some chocolate syrup/ hot chocolate packs in it. It’s healthy and tastes like dessert. Regular nuts have good protein in them too but can get pretty expensive, so I just keep peanut butter around. Nutritional yeast is also pretty fantastic. A little goes a long way and it’s packed with protein, iron, and other nutrients. Tastes cheesy.

All in all our monthly grocery bill for 2 people looks like this:

$1-2 for bulk rice ($9 20lb bag from Walmart that lasts several months for 2 people)
$3-5 for beans
$25 for supplies from the Asian market (2 lb rice noodles, 3 packs tofu, fresh produce, sauces, Indian curry, tea, egg rolls, miso)
$10-15 for cheese
$2 wheat berries. I order these online. You can get $1/lb on Amazon or most other sites. It lasts forever.
$15 on whole wheat pasta (you can get this in bulk too, making it even cheaper)
$12-15 on eggs and almond milk
$25 on other produce/misc

Total: $93-$104

I do spend more on the eggs and milk since they’re backyard eggs and almond milk, so if you’re really strapped for cash that would bring it down probably an extra $5-$10 a month.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions about this set-up/anything else. And best of luck!