San Rafael: Tienda Guatemalteca - chuchitos
I read about this Guatemalan and Columbian market in this Marin IJ article about ethnic markets in Marin
"Assorted hot fresh tamales on Saturdays; carnitas and chicharrones, fresh meats, packaged and canned goods, drinks, produce, sweets and some cooking equipment"
The Pacific Sun mentions "Don't miss the store's collection of wooden spoons (one ladle is 4 feet long), rolling pins and twirling implements for mixing cocoa."
Ok, I missed those since I didn't read the Pacific Sun article until after my visit.
While the market says on the window that they sell South American groceries, it is uniquely Guatemalan with some Columbian groceries.
This is a totally different market from any Mexican, Central American or South American markets in the Bay Area. It's focus is on those two countries and there are groceries I've never seen before.
It is totally bare-bones, far from your usual Latino corner market which would be considered fancy by comparison. I have to guess if you walked in a market in Guatamala it would look exactly like this.
Near the register up front there is a steamer with the chuchitos, a Guatemalan version of the tamale. The shredded chicken was mixed with potatoes and bits of tomato (I think). The masa was more like a Mexican tamale than like the moister chuchito masa I've had elsewhere.
The chuchitos and my local Guatemalan bakery in Richmond are a bit better, but these were a good example.
They also had Mexican tamales (cheese, chicken or pork). The cheese wasn't as cheesy as some, but there was a nice moist masa.
Really, the products were so different that my head was spinning and I wasn't able to retain much. The had some Guatemalan Christmas bread in the pan dulce section. It had red and green sprinkles on it. Different from the Christmas bread I bought at my local bakery.
There was also packages of ponche mix - a spicy Christmas punch. The package had dried apples, dried raisins and other dried fruit. I'm guessing there were spices in there also.
There were spices in little plastec bags marked as specifically Gautemalan and specifically Columbian.
In the freezer there were frozen Guatemalan tamales (which are different than chuchitos). They also had some sort of frozen leaves for wrapping things I haven't seen before.
There is a small meat and cheese counter. Today they had pollo criollo wrapped in red plastic bags. They were $2.29 lb which is very pricy for this type of market so I'm wondering what that is all about. This was a funny blog speculating on chickens called that in Peru
This post on Chowhound says "Pollo criollo" is a naturally raised chicken whereas other types of chickens are mass produced
There are a few bins of veggies outside and on the left at the entrance there is more produce.
My S/O is Guatemalan AND works in San Rafael and said he never heard of the place. It will be interesting to hear what he thinks if he checks it out.
925 4th St, San Rafael, CA