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Noticing Neighbors Spicy Mama’s Salsa


Angelica Michel is the owner of Spicy Mama’s Salsa, and she is asking you to add some spice to your life! Spicy Mama’s Salsa is a homemade salsa that sources produce from Angelica’s garden and local markets, then roasts and boils those ingredients into vibrant, delicious salsas. She recently had a pop up event with Vegan Events KC, and we were able to talk about the stories behind her business.

Angelica: How are you doing?

Hayley:

I'm doing good! I was so happy to come to the pop up yesterday and see everything. Can you explain what you offer, for readers that might not know?

Angelica:

I am Spicy Mama’s Salsa and I make homemade, authentic salsas. I also can them and try to make it shelf stable. My goal is to essentially bring what I grew up with onto other people's tables.


Hayley: That’s amazing.


Angelica:

The pop up yesterday was organized by Vegan Events KC. She just wanted to create a pop up event where everybody was selling vegan products, and salsa’s vegan!


At least mine is, it's all vegetables.


Hayley: It fits!

Angelica:

She's been having a few pop ups this summer and I, luckily, was able to join her and sell my salsas. This is the first summer that I am putting myself out there and I just started this business this year.

So I am experimenting right now, seeing what kind of events I want to do. I may want to do pop ups, or I may want to be in a farmer's market weekly. So I'm just kind of figuring out what I want to do from there.


Hayley: You said a cool word: that you're experimenting right now. When I tried your salsa before the pop up, I had no clue how many different flavors and ingredients you could put in a really delicious salsa. Can you explain some of the different flavors?

Angelica:

Yes. So the traditional is tomatoes and peppers, but you also want to add a little bit more flavor: add garlic, onion, salt, cilantro. Cilantro is really big in my culture, so you kind of just put cilantro in everything. There are those people who ask me, “Is the cilantro in all of your salsas?” Because there are apparently people who have certain taste buds where it tastes like soap to them!


Hayley: That’s so sad! That’s my favorite part!

Angelica:

I know, I know, but yeah I’m definitely experimenting with flavor. So I started doing a carrot habanero salsa and people are really loving it. That one that seems to be the most unique because of its color: it’s a super bright orange, where most people think of a red salsa or even salsa verde.

To see an orange one that's not tomato or tomatillo based is kind of what makes it unique. It's made with carrots, and I just boil them up and blend them together. You get the sweetness at first, and then the habaneros kick in, you know? Hayley: It kicks. Can confirm, it kicks! Angelica: It looks pretty, but it'll kill you. (Laughs)


Hayley: That’s a good slogan! (Laughs)

Angelica: I actually got that recipe from family. People ask me: “What exactly do you put into this?” And it’s just something that I've grown up with. So having other people see it from the outside, like who didn't grow up with it, makes it even more unique because for me it was just an everyday thing. In our house, you just always add salsa to your food. Hayley: Right. Angelica: That's why I came up with the slogan “Add spice to your life” because it’s like, wait, you haven’t been? Like, you haven’t been doing this? Hayley: (Laughs) Angelica: So that's one of my more unique ones. I also do roasted red chili peppers. In Spanish, they're called chili arbols. These are dried out peppers and this one specifically is a serrano. So these dried out serrano become chili arbol, or red chili peppers.


I roast those and then I actually throw them in with serranos, so it’s really just serranos with serranos straight up! (Laughs) I do it with a tomatillo base versus a tomato base so I can give it more of a runny texture.

Hayley: That’s so interesting!



Angelica: It has more of a smoky flavor, and it's one that you want to drizzle on top of your meats or use as a marinade. While you're cooking it, you just drizzle, and it will absorb all the juices in the flavor from the salsa.


Hayley: Delicious. Angelica:

So that's why I use my tomatillo base. Plus, it looks really colorful!

I'm still experimenting with names right now. I want each of my salsas to have a name. This is like a sneak peek: I’ve thought about doing the Seven Deadly Sins for my salsas! Hayley: (Claps) Angelica: I was going to name the red chili pepper one Pride, because it's so colorful.


Hayley: That's bomb!

Angelica:

There’s extra color because that's the only one where I put red onion. For most of them, I put either yellow or white onion, but I put red onion in for that one. So you have the purple, you have the tomatillo red, you have the green from the cilantro, it’s just very colorful. Hayley: Wow. Angelica: Then there’s the avocado one, which is my best seller. That’s the one I can't successfully can yet so I'm still experimenting with that, but it's sold fresh.

It’s interesting that the spicier ones, the hot ones, all last longer than the mild. I learned that the more peppers it has, the longer the shelf life!

Hayley: It keeps it fresh longer?


Angelica:

It really does help to keep it fresh, yeah.


Hayley: You mentioned that this is how you grew up, and that the knowledge came from your family. Can you explain who inspired you or how you got started?

Angelica:

So really, I started making salsas in 2020. You know, pandemic year. Everybody had to stay home. I was lucky to still have a job. So I would go to work, come home, go to work, come home—it was like, okay! I need to do something else! I had just bought my house right when the pandemic started, so I decided to put a garden outside and start growing peppers and tomatoes and tomatillos. Just thinking: I can make salsas, why not? Then I had an excessive amount, so I started making them and canning them. Then people were tasting them, and they said they wanted to buy them! Asking: Do you sell salsas? You should start a salsa business!

So it was kind of like other people telling me, do this! And I was like, you know what? I should! I can do that! Hayley: What was the next step? Angelica: February was really when I got my business license, and it's been a process. But the reason why I decided to do salsas is because I connect with my heritage, and I'm able to carry on the traditions of my family. I’m not only able to give it to my friends and family, but I can also give it to my neighbors and my community.


I want to bring my childhood to other people's tables.


Hayley: Wow. That's cool.

Angelica:

Thank you.


Hayley: I feel like that says a lot about the people that you have in your life, too.

Angelica: Yes. Hayley: They just believe in you right off the bat. I mean, that's just a cool angle.

Angelica:

I've been blessed to have people who love and support me. If they don't buy my salsas, they spread the word. I have a good friend who's constantly telling people about my salsas. Then I meet those people and they're like, “Oh, hi! Are you the salsa girl? Are you Spicy Mama?!”


Hayley: The one and only! Angelica: It’s so fun, I just almost feel like a celebrity sometimes!


Hayley: That's so cool. That's a good group in your life.

Angelica:

Yeah.


Hayley: Usually, there's an intention when people make something. You're chopping up, you’re roasting, whatever you're doing—that's work, you know? What do you think about when you're doing it?

Angelica:

So I actually create a whole vibe whenever I'm making my salsas. I make it like a whole day thing! I buy my produce because right now my garden is still not enough for the amounts I’m making.

Hayley: Sure. Angelica: In the meantime, I go buy my produce at a Mexican local market, and I'm around my people! Then I come home and roast all my peppers, boil, and do what I need to do while I'm playing my Hispanic music. I have my apron on, and I have Mariachi playing. When I do it I feel like I am connecting with my ancestors and, you know, I love being able to do something that just comes so natural. Hayley: Mmm. Angelica: It’s almost like my passion has grown over the past few months because I'm learning about all the types of peppers, where they originate, and where salsa came from. Because if you look at the Mexican culture’s food, there's not a lot of vegetables! (Laughs)


We eat a lot of carbs, we eat a lot of bread, tortillas, meat—and then we put cilantro and onion on top of our tacos. So our vegetables come from salsa.


Hayley: Interesting. So it's really a staple? Angelica:

Yeah! It's a staple. You're never going to go to a taco place that doesn’t have salsa, right?


Hayley: Right! I have a last question, and you can answer however you like. How have you seen goodness through this whole process? Is there something that comes to mind?

Angelica:

Well it has been a process, you know. Making the salsas is the easy part. It’s everything else that's kind of difficult.


Hayley: Yeah.

Angelica:

It’s running the business, getting the license, talking to people, networking, putting myself out there, social media— it's all a learning process. That's one thing I appreciate about this business: I'm learning every day. I'm growing and appreciating the process of getting where I want to go. I have the vision but it’s about taking the steps to get there. I try to take it day by day, goal by goal.

Hayley: What a good idea. Day by day, goal by goal.

Angelica:

It challenges me. I've always been that type of person where I like to be challenged just because I feel that's what's helping me grow. My favorite part about everything is when somebody tastes the salsa and they're like: “This is so good!” My favorite sound, too, is when they start breathing quickly because it’s spicy! I’m like, yes! Especially when I can get a family member to do that sound!

Hayley: Ah, yeah! Angelica:

I love when other family members tell me which flavors they like and which ones are spicy, it's almost like a stamp of approval. I got the stamp! Hayley: How can people come see you to try your salsa? Angelica:

So I'm experimenting with farmer’s markets. Once I find the farmer’s market that I feel like I belong in, then I'll send people in that direction. Just follow my pages for that info. Eventually the dream is to become a manufacturer and be able to sell in bulk, wholesale. Watch out for that!

To keep up with Spicy Mama’s Salsa upcoming pop ups, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.


All media originally published by Spicy Mama’s Salsa via their online platforms, with special permissions given by Strawberry Swing KC & Vegan Events KC.

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