Martinez Brand, a local chicharroneria at 4th Street and Mesa, supplies El Paso, Las Cruces, and Juarez. Owner Laura Gonzalez, the woman standing behind the counter, looks as if she had just stepped out of a movie wearing a white apron, with her puffy black and short hair and the light of the a neon sign shining on her.
Outside there is a sign that reads *CARNITAS con salsa *COLITAS de PAVO MARTINEZ BRAND. Inside there is a shrine of La Virgen de Guadalupe. Next to it there is a poster and a small picture of a torero. There’s also a shelf holding bags of chicharrones with a label of a pig’s silhouette and yellow background. They can be found at any neighborhood’s Albertson’s, Lowe’s or even Walmart.
Gonzalez was born in El Paso, but like many others her parents are immigrants. Her father left Zacatecas and started this business in the 1960s. It has been passed through generations. Laura even mentioned that she used to live in that very house when she was a young girl.
She was raised there and now owns the place. Her accent is strong. She leans on the steel table. “Pos mi papá tenia tienda en la calle Stanton; tienda y cantina. Y luego ya se vino pa’ acá y ya comenzó. Compró casa allá por la calle Alicia y agarro esta para negocio,” said Gonzalez. She also encouraged each of us to take a bag of chicharrones.
The pictures and posters of a bullfighter displayed on the wall are of her son. “¿Lo ven en el picture? El poster dice ahí Eduardo Martinez ‘Bombita’. El es.” With the same pride she encourages visitors to check out the portrait of her father outside at the parking lot.
A portrait of a man under a blue sky with two mountains behind and a river that flows by his left side. That and the logo of the black pig against a yellow background is hard to ignore. Martinez Brand may be known for its crunchy chicharrones but the store where they come from is flashy and cinematic, a jewel among the buildings of Chihuahuita.
– By Veronica Martinez