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  • [subway doors closing bell]

  • Taryn Varricchio: Five and a half blocks from

  • the Roosevelt Avenue subway station,

  • just past 79th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens,

  • there's a small bodega.

  • But inside, past the aisles filled

  • with your usual snacks and refreshments,

  • you'll find something unexpected.

  • A small counter dishing out sweet

  • and tangy seafood cocktails

  • full of plump shrimp and fresh octopus.

  • This is La Esquina del Camarón Mexicano.

  • Meet Pedro Rodriguez,

  • the man serving this delicious Mexican dish.

  • Pedro Rodriguez: I was 11 years old, 12 years old.

  • I start working with a lady

  • from the coast of Veracruz in Mexico.

  • I learned to make this kind of cocktails.

  • It's something different than

  • the Mexicans sells here in New York.

  • Taryn: Pedro's specialty is makingcteles.

  • Pedro: Mexico City's tradition

  • is to take the cocktail in a cup.

  • We have shrimp.

  • We have octopus.

  • There's no science; we just boil it.

  • The real flavor comes from the other things we have.

  • Some clam juice,

  • fresh lime,

  • a little salt,

  • but the secret is the tomato sauce

  • that personally I make.

  • That's why the people like these cocktails,

  • 'cause it has something different,

  • something that's special.

  • We put onions, cilantro,

  • and avocado.

  • Taryn: Seems simple enough,

  • but what's it all taste like?

  • Pedro: The flavor, it's difficult to explain it.

  • You gotta try it!

  • Especially the tomato sauce.

  • It have a flavor like a sweet and sour.

  • That's why we add some salt,

  • because the salt give it another touch.

  • It's not easy for me to explain it.

  • Taryn: Mm.

  • Yo,

  • that sauce is really good.

  • Pedro: Now let me ask you, can you....

  • Taryn: Explain it? [Pedro laughs]

  • No, the sweet and sour was right on.

  • Pedro: Yeah.

  • Taryn: And it has, like, a lot of acid.

  • Like, you feel that sour kick,

  • but it's like a tasty sweetness too.

  • It's really good.

  • Customer: Because it's authentic, you know?

  • It has a little bit of sweetness,

  • and also you feel, like, a little spice,

  • very, very mild,

  • but the seafood is awesome. I love it.

  • Customer: I had a shrimp cocktail in Mexico,

  • and this one was better.

  • Customer: Yeah, we just went to Cabo, no lie,

  • and he was like, "I like the one in Queens better."

  • Pedro: I feel wonderful

  • when the people is happy with my food,

  • you know.

  • I'm sorry. I don't know how to explain this, but.

  • Taryn: Pedro started out selling hiscteles

  • from a small stand on the corner in front of the bodega.

  • Pedro: When I came to this country,

  • I was missing my cocktails.

  • I was working on construction,

  • and construction, you go all the ways in the city.

  • And in every place that I went,

  • I saw a Mexican restaurant and I said,

  • "Oh, one cocktail. I'm gonna try one cocktail."

  • Always it was

  • disappointed, you know,

  • because it's not the same, you know?

  • So I, one day I say,

  • "I gotta sell my own cocktails."

  • Then that's why I start my business

  • selling my cocktail on the street Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Taryn: Until, one day, the owner of the store

  • made him an offer.

  • Pedro: He saw how the people came inside

  • to buy soda, beer, and everything.

  • So he told me, "Why don't you open a kitchen inside here?"

  • And I said, "I'm sorry,

  • but I don't have the money to invest."

  • So he told me, "If you want,

  • we can put half and half for the kitchen,

  • and we can open it."

  • Taryn: And for those who don't know where to find it,

  • just turn to the locals.

  • Customer: We thought it was gonna be in a deli.

  • We're like, "Wait, where is it?"

  • And then we just asked around,

  • and people knew that it was here.

  • Pedro: The people themselves,

  • they recommend me.

  • Every time they come back to buy another one,

  • bring another customer and another customer,

  • so, I don't know, they find me.

  • Taryn: With more space inside the bodega,

  • Pedro could add more dishes to the menu,

  • like these flaky empanadas.

  • They're lightly fried and stuffed with sea bass,

  • split open at the seam, and filled with mayo,

  • cilantro, and a slice of avocado.

  • Pedro: I hope one day I'm gonna have a bigger kitchen,

  • and I'm gonna make all the dishes from Veracruz.

  • Taryn: But for now, Pedro's happy makingcteles,

  • for those who know where to find them.

  • Pedro: I feel...

  • a winner.

  • I feel like

  • I reached my American dream.

  • I came here looking for something, and I found it.

  • Thanks for the people, you know,

  • because without customers I'm nothing.

  • But I feel that my culture brings something to New York

  • that everybody likes.

[subway doors closing bell]

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B1 pedro taryn cocktail bodega customer shrimp

Seafood Counter Hidden In A Bodega Serves Fresh Cups Of Shrimp And Octopus

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/06
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