Love wrapped in a tortilla.
If you love someone, feed them.
Celebrating Canada's 150th Birthday during 2017 with heartwarming stories from our family of suppliers who chose to make Canada home.
By Theresa Tayler
Victor Montanez & Evangelina Lopez with their son Sebastian.
Cook, bake, make, stir and combine to your heart’s delight. It’s a universally-practiced form of showing affection and care—cooking up a home-made meal for loved ones transcends culture, creed,
Evangelina Lopez’s family is no different. For them, food is love. And love, most commonly, comes wrapped in a tortilla.
Lopez is the co-owner of El Mercado (Edmonton), a family owned business that makes traditional Mexican corn tortillas, all from their specially-outfitted shop in the heart of the prairies.
“We all, no matter what country or culture we come from, have wonderful memories of hot soup our moms used to cook us when we’re sick…a
“Cooking is sharing. Food is indeed, love! Who doesn’t want to get the recipe from our parents and try to prepare it exactly how we remember. Food is a way to show love and pass down traditions.”
When Lopez wants to cook something from the heart, she has a go-to recipe…“Tacos! Of course,” she says.
“Tacos are our
After graduating from college, Lopez and her hubby, Victor (Montanez), wanted to do something a little adventurous before settling down and finding jobs in Mexico.
“We thought we come to Canada for a little while to learn English — maybe a year or so,” she explains. “But, our plans to return to Mexico soon changed. After a couple of years being in this beautiful
The first few years away from home — and getting used to -40 below temperatures, yikes! — were sometimes tough. Being away from loved ones and extended family is never easy. Lopez says she and Victor combed through Albertan supermarkets looking for traditional tortillas but didn’t have much luck finding any that truly tasted “like home.”
Lopez wanted to share her culture with friends in Alberta, but the elusive traditional tortilla was nowhere to be found—so, she decided it was time to bring a taste of Mexico to her new home!
“Tortillas are a fundamental component of the rich and diverse Mexican cuisine; they are a part of our everyday life. And this is what made us come with the idea of having a tortilla factory,” she adds.
In 2009, she, her husband and her brother-in-law (Armando Galindo) founded El Mercado. The first challenge was to make sure they had everything they needed to create homemade tortillas. That meant, importing technology and machinery from Mexico.
“It took months to prepare and adapt this machine and the processing room to meet the federal and provincial safety food and health regulations,” says Lopez.
“What we ended up with a slight variation on the technology, it’s not a typical Tortilleria maker that you might find in Mexico, but an adaptation of it for Canada. That being said, the technology is one hundred percent Mexican.”
On any given day at El Mercado, you might find Lopez and her crew cooking up regular and taco-size tortillas as well as a variety of tortilla (
The crew at El Mercado
“The three of us are now surrounded, with a big group of friends that became our family in Edmonton. At El Mercado, we have not only a
El Mercado products are available at Italian Centre Shop locations in both Calgary and Edmonton. Teresa Spinelli says, “in addition to the amazing quality and taste,” the Italian Centre chooses to carry the product because of the Lopez’s dedication to traditional ingredients and recipes.
“The Italian Centre shop has a long history in Alberta of being a place where families come and get their most-loved, traditional, ingredients to cook wonderful meals that speak to culture and tradition. El Mercado’s products are Mexican, not Italian, but their spirit of the importance of culture and tradition and their love of quality ingredients that reflect and respect their roots, fit right into our own values. Plus, you know, just try them – those tortillas are delicious…”
“This Valentines Day, if you want to show those around you that you love them. Cook for them, I know it’s what I’ll be doing with my family that day,” Teresa adds.
“The best thing you can do for those you love
Being away from extended family in Mexico is, or course, difficult at times, Lopez says Canada has become her family’s second home and Canada has allowed them all to proudly keep their roots.
“We love to make Mexican Style corn tortillas in Edmonton and share that passion with everyone!”
|Victor & Evangelina at a Canada v Mexico soccer match|