By Tiffany Savinon
Read in The Miami Herald
On weekends, a traditional butcher at a carniceria Mexicana located in a warehouse complex in Miami Lakes puts on a chef’s hat to delight his customers with homemade food made far from home.
Franco’s Distributor owner, Marco Antonio Franco, 40, uses a family recipe from Mexico to make tacos de carnitas Mexicanas, one of his favorite dishes.
“No other carniceria does what I do to keep customers coming back,” Franco said.
This “light snack,” as Franco calls it, consists of 40 pounds of fried salted pork meat simmered for more than three hours in a gigantic cazo, which is a pot made from hammered copper. Once cooked, the flavorful juicy meat is placed on top of warm homemade Mexican tortillas garnished with a fresh chopped spicy sauce known as salsa casera — a blend of tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic and salt — all for $1.50 a piece.
Couple Lisbeth Ayala, 18, and Alejandro Villanueva, 17, visit the market every weekend to munch on tacos and shop for paletas Michoacanas, icy, slightly creamy popsicles of different flavors sold at the market.
“My mother buys all types of meat here, but I come every weekend for the tacos and the paletas,” Ayala said. “The flavor of the meat mixed with the salsa is addictive, and I eat two or three tacos in no time.”
Franco said customers can get a taste of the meat and products before purchasing them.
“I prefer buying here because Franco teaches me about the meat and suggests how I can cook it,” said Juan Melendez, 29, who visits the market twice a month to purchase meat in bulk.
“I feel at ease because I’m getting my money’s worth,” he said. Javier Perez, 29, originally from Toluca, Mexico, agrees. “We come here because Marco offers the best meat cuts at an affordable price,” he said. “Today we bought rice, flap meat and chilies to make soup.”
Franco’s products include many types of meat, ranging from American meat cuts such as T-bone steak, N.Y. strip, sirloin steak and flap meat — to homemade Mexican and Argentinean chorizos, as well as Brazilian cuts like picanha, which most American butchers know as the cap of the top sirloin.
He also distributes cheese, from typical Mexican cheese — such as queso fresco — to Swiss and American cheese. He also sells a variety of seafood.
“It’s a blessing to find a place that sells all the things we need,” said Maria Henriquez, a first time customer who moved from Colombia to Florida in 1993. “It’s the same as buying food at a market in my country.”
Franco worked as a butcher and manager for 19 years at Normandy supermarket in Miami Beach before establishing his distributing meat market business two years ago.
“My customers range from those looking for fresh items to cook a hearty meal for their families to those asking for rare meat cuts like bull testicles and cattle brain or femur bones for their dogs,”
Franco said. “If my customers ask me for ears, I will get it for them.”