B: How long have you been a vendor at TMY?
G: This will be our 26th year. We began just with aguas frescas, the symbol and custom of Mexico. They are very popular.
I am from Ures, Sonora. So when I came to TMY to represent Mexico, this was the best way. And then I expanded to sell food as well. At first I sold tamales, beans, and rice, because tamales are also very traditional. But that got expensive because I had to prepare the tamales in a special kitchen. So I dedicated myself to the taco, which is also traditional to Mexico. We make tacos de carne asada, pollo asado with a little salsita, cabbage with corn or flour tortillas, which I get in Nogales. Now we have two booths, one for aguas frescas and one for tacos.
B: What is special about your aguas frescas?
G: We make them with real fruit. They are natural, not made with powders. People love that. Everything is made fresh on site. The most popular is horchata, then limonada, mango, and sandía. We also have piña, tamarindo, and jamaica.
For the horchata, I soak the rice overnight in the refrigerator with cinnamon sticks, then bring it to the festival. I make everything right there. I grind up the rice with the cinnamon and then I put Carnation evaporated milk and vanilla in the jar. I add the ground rice and cinnamon and mix it well. I go adding more milk and more rice and other ingredients throughout the day.
For the aguas de fruta, it’s just fruit, sugar and water in the blender.
B: Where does the name “Los Chiquilines” come from?
G: I have a daughter that we called “Chiquis” and then a grandson was called “Chiquis” too. So many “Chiquis” in the house. Los Chiquilines.
B: What makes your booth recognizable?
G: People say, “You don’t need Mexican decorations because the colors of the juice are already decorations enough.” The aguas themselves are so colorful and decorative.
People always look for me. One time they changed my location and people said, “We couldn’t find you last year,” and they were upset. So they returned me to the same place as before and now everyone knows to look for me there.
B: What are your favorite things to enjoy at TMY?
G: I’m always happy to work at TMY because I do so well. We are so busy. We almost don’t have time to eat. I don’t like to miss time in the booth because I want everything to be ready and I don’t like making people wait in long lines. I am always filling and refilling the aguas because thanks to God people are always coming looking for me.
In past years, I’ve really enjoyed the parade. It was something I could enjoy from my post. They didn’t do it last year and I hear they’re not doing it again this year.
B: How has the Festival changed?
G: For many years the festival was small, with just one coordinator, Jim Griffith. Then it grew a lot. One thing that happened for a few years is that they allowed restaurants in to sell food. Several Mexican restaurants came into the Festival. Before that was never allowed. I was the one representing Mexico and aguas frescas. Eventually things went back to the way they were, without those businesses. More or less traditional. This is better for us, because there is less competition.
B: How does TMY support your business or life beyond the Festival?
G: I feel good because a lot of times I hire people to help me, often people who need money. So it benefits them, too. If there’s someone behind on something, I can help them out. If there’s a funeral, I can help them or I can help my community with gatherings, giving sandwiches or menudo.
B: What are your plans for future TMY Festivals?
G: I’m going to be at TMY as long as the organizers give me the opportunity and as long as God gives me good health.