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Jun 3, 2007 09:46 PM

Elote al Julio Valdez, Salinas

Thursday evening I stopped by Sr. Valdez’s tamale/hot dog/elote cart on the corner of East Market and Ivy streets on the eastside of town. This was my first visit in a few months and I hoped he might have seasonal elote, corn on the cob served in the Mexican style, a classic food of the streets. Bingo!

The long ear pulled from the steamer compartment looked like it been boiled or steamed rather than grilled. After impaling it with a wooden skewer handle, he gave it the faintest film of mayonesa, just enough to make the grated cotija cheese stick to the kernels. I nodded when he asked if I wanted chili, and gave it a good dusting with his chili powder spice blend. I stopped him from wrapping it up in foil saying I’d eat it there. He pulled out a small bench for me to sit.

This baby was heavy, making the skewer flex when I tried to pick it up and I needed two hands to support the ear of corn. This got a chuckle from Mr. Valdez, who said, “it’s too big for you!” Made with yellow corn, this tasted more like corn and less like sugar. While I would have preferred a grilled version, this was a delicious first corn of the summer season.

Image of elote -

Other posts on Julio Valdez’s stand –

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  1. Cali, Colombia, is a cosmopolitan city of a couple of million people. Maisorcas (corn on the cob) are sold on the streets at particular points and by several vendors at each locale, with each having no more than a charcoal grill, fan, and their maiz. The vendors are located along traditional and respected points--next to the stature of Balacazar and along the park of the aqueducto--both within a couple of hundred meters from my place--for example. Most, if not all, of the vendors are Afro-Colombianos. The city and the people treasure them and their maisorcas. The Valdez elotes are of the same tradition and spirit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Thank you, this relationship with corn is a wonderful thing.

      It's getting so that it's hard to find yellow corn around here. Almost all the white and sugary kind these days, except for the Mexican markets and elote vendors.

    2. Tonight I had the chance to follow up with Sr. Valdez to see if he makes uchepos (aka tamales de elote) during corn season. "Sure do", he said, when I asked such an obvious question of an elote and tamale vendor. And they're good, a buck apiece, with soft masa that's slightly salty to set-off the sweetness of the fresh corn kernels so well.

      1. I stopped by Sr. Valdez's cart on Monday to get a champurrado and drop off a copy of Chow's tour of truck food in Salinas. He told me he doesn't have a computer but that he's had new customers recently who say they who saw him on the internet.
        The two guys ahead of me bought 10 hot dogs. A long wait, for sure, but I don't mind sharing this find.

        P.S. He's taking a little vacation and will not be working tonight or tomorrow. Maybe taking Friday off too.

        1. Too early in the year for elotes (corn), but champurrado is available all year-round. When I stopped by this week for the hot corn drink, I was pleased to see that the hot dog/tamale cart had a fresh coat of paint. A "no smoking" sign has also been posted, right over the condiment shelf, as part of the voluntary smoke-free entryways program.

          Valdez Hot Dogs
          East Market St and Ivy St, Salinas, CA