The dozens of small Hispanic grocery stores now operating in New Orleans stock food inventories markedly different from mainstream American groceries, and the differences go beyond the brand names of beans or tortillas.
Among their offerings: green plantains, yucca, taro, masa flour (for preparing tortillas), varieties of beans in bulk, dried ancho, arbol, gaujillo and pasilla chili peppers, loose chorizo sausage, tropical fruits, mild, white farmer-style cheeses, cuajada milk curd and crema. Even the smallest new groceries have significant inventories of fresh vegetables and fruits, more than is typically found at mainstream convenience stores of similar size.
"One of the reasons these stores are open in the first place is that the owners know there's a different taste profile that isn't being served by the big chains," says Felipe Korzenny, director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. He says Latino immigrants tend to choose more natural foods and "stay closer to ground" with food preparation.
Latino products and fresh regional produce are not hard to procure, say local grocers, due to regular deliveries from Houston, where many large Hispanic food distributors are based. — McNulty