Homeboy Chips and Salsa

I heard on the radio today that Homeboy Industries were expanding one of their business ventures with a line of salsas and tortilla chips that you can now purchase at Ralph’s stores across Southern California. Yeah, everyone supports Homeboy Industries and their good intentions, but how are the salsas and chips? Well I got a chance to try some out!

I was walking along, minding my own business, when this truck pulled up ahead of me. Maybe they’ll be giving out samples? Yes they were.

My free lil’ brown bag of chips and salsa. Plus I can reuse it to hide my beer. Score! They also gave me a flier, I guess I’ll read it. Their motto is “Nothing Stops A Bullet Like A Job”. When I was a teenager I went to see if they could help me find a job, but they gave me some line about why I didn’t qualify, basically being poor and unemployed wasn’t on their agenda, you had to be a knucklehead causing trouble with the neighbors as well. I was pissed for many years. But fair enough, they can’t help everyone and I understand now what they aim to do. Besides, those few years of extra-legal, uh, “work” where I determined my own wages were pretty memorable. Ahh, the good old days.

(One day I’ll tell you about getting a job via the unemployment office, where I distributed propaganda for the Republican Party as a minimum wage postal carrier for two days and didn’t get paid shit: now those fuckers I will never forgive.)

But back to the salsas and chips. I looked through the options. Pico de Gallo? That needs to be had fresh, so pass. Some mango salsa? Uh, no. Ok, salsa verde seems reasonable enough, let me have one of those. It looks like your standard commercially made salsa verde aka tomatillo sauce. The chips looked awfully familiar as well, like from one of those big name brands you get at the supermarket. Dip and taste.

Yup, seems very familiar, they look AND taste like commercially made products, like re-branded products. The salsa is what you would expect, a blend of tomatillos, cilantro, cebolla, and presumably some chiles in a mixture that is well balanced. Not gelatinous like fresh tomatillos are want to do. Nor too watery as if you’ve won the fight against the gel. It’s just right, the way you expect a salsa from the market to act. The chips have that really pale look of mass manufacturing and are dusted with a heavy hand of salt as well. They are nowhere as good as La Fortaleza chips. I get the feeling Homeboy Industries just worked out a plan by which they can lend their name to some already available item. I don’t blame them, they do need the money. But it’s not a product I need on my dinner table.

Everyone wants to try the Homeboy chips and salsa!

In other words, its decent enough for taking to an office party. But don’t feed it to your children on a regular basis.

I should probably speculate now that I’m not the intended consumer anyways, as I don’t usually buy pre-made salsas. The main reason you’d want to buy HI salsas and chips is to support their mission. If you are going to buy a mass-manufactured salsa then Homeboy is the way to go, you get some charity work done and you’ll feel better about yourself knowing some of that money went to a worthy cause.

But if you want to make something better and save lots of money (which you can, of course, contribute later to Homeboy) here’s a better idea:

Boil 5-6 tomatillos, 2-4 serrano chiles, half a white onion, a clove or two of garlic, in some water for about 5-7 minutes. Blend the ingredients and some fresh cilantro (or pulse them in a processor depending on how you want the texture) with a tad of the boiling water, depending on how thin you want the sauce. Add salt as needed.

That’s cinchy.

6 thoughts on “Homeboy Chips and Salsa

  1. Hmmmm….. I like the sound of roasted tomatillos but yeah boiling is ok too. Gee what’s next for Homeboy Industries? Karaoke? 😉
    I had a friend or two or three that worked there. I got a grand tour of the place, really nice by the way. It was a hang out for like a week, mostly nice visits there. Except for my first time there when this vato downstairs, asked me, as I walked in the door, “Aye, you need help aye?” No, I replied… “I’m expecting someone soon, but thank you”. His response “Well dispensa aye”( with a much deeper tone) Hahaha…Pues no! But I liked the Homegirl Cafe, it has pretty tasty food.

    Now on to the Postal carrier chronicles…..

  2. Well, maybe because they are trying to target the masses that shop at Ralphs (the gringos who don’t shop at Big Saver and Food 4 Less like me), they need to sell the mango salsa and commercial tasting salsas. I really enjoyed Father Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart. If you guys don’t want to buy it, see if you can find it at your library. Overall, I think they are onto something and it’s very inspiring to read the stories. I converted all my schools to work with them to get their printing needs met. So I’ve been trying to do my part to get the word out since I was 13. Controversy follows them and people are critical of the organization, but has anyone come up with a better idea? Pues no, so I’ll support Jobs not Gangs. 🙂

  3. Excellent idea! Love the LA food truck craze, love Homeboy Industries and their ingenuity. Eeeee and not so long ago, in a dark moment in ELA history, the politicians there were trying to drive the food trucks away in exchange for more fast food joints. [Isn’t there going to be a law against fast food places serving non-nutritional foods soon?) Sighhh–only proves that not everyone is a visionary. HBC&S should make it over to the Santa Anita track this weekend–they are proudly featuring gourmet catering trucks on their grounds for their customers. Even Disney’s California Adventure has an all chrome catering truck in the Tron area. Chavo, at the HomeGirl Cafe they serve those chips and salsa verde. I think it REALLY is their own recipe. If it seems like salsa light, you are right it is for another type of customer, not you or me.

  4. I was at ralph’s and saw some of their stuff so i bought the “mole” sauce. It was okay. It was mole mixed with tomato. Kind of heavy with the flavor, but it’s pretty good on eggs. The label says it’s made to benefit the charity. So it probably doesn’t mean that some recovering gangster is making your sauce. (Well, maybe one is, but it’s not at some HI factory.)

    You know how they say that jobs beat gangs or something like that? It seems like a lot of jobs involve tyrant bosses, unpleasant tasks, partying with co-workers, hanging out working late, and keeping company secrets. So how is that so different from a gang?

  5. Whoever started that company congratulations to them because we need more businesses like that. I wonder if the salsa was good, and how was it made with what ingredients.

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