Marycarmen is the co-founder of Fireworks Foods – an online store and shop front selling all the Mexican goodies that'll help you cook tortillas, salsas and moles like a pro. She talks to us about the changing tastes of Aussies, typical Mexi-breakfasts, and how to make tamales more inviting.
April Smallwood

3 Mar 2014 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2014 - 3:54 PM

How did Fireworks Foods start?

“My husband and I love hot sauces and just couldn’t find them here, so we started a small online business selling hot sauces. Every time we went to Mexico, we would bring back bagsful of products. As soon as we arrived home, they were just gone; we’d be giving them to family and having people over for lunch, so they didn’t last. After that, we decided to start a small business selling different Mexican specialties.”


How have you noticed the increasing popularity of Mexican food?

“Ten years ago when we started [Fireworks Foods], all you could really find here was, like, Tex Mex food; enchiladas and nachos. Slowly, people have become more aware and more attention is now on many different cuisines. People have begun uncovering Mexican food in a new way. They’re interested in different flavours, ingredients and combinations.”


Does that give you joy to see?

“Yes, it makes me very happy that people are really welcoming Mexican food – and not just whatever they can find in the supermarket. They’re trying and experimenting, and they ask me, ‘How do you prepare this? What’s your favourite thing?’. We have Chinese people, Indian people, a lot of Europeans coming into the shop. It is really nice to have that interaction.”


As a Mexican, how do you rate Sydney restaurants plating up Mexican fare?

“Some of them, I have to say, the food is very nice – very tasty, very good. Of course, some others you feel like, ‘Oh, no. This is the same salsa as in the jar’. Put a little bit of chilli, salt and pepper, please!”


Which ones have your seal of approval?

“Here in Sydney, I like to go to Flying Fajita Sisters in Glebe. Dos Senoritas in Gladesville is also good – [chef] Domingo Medina does very nice sauces that he makes himself. He has very interesting home cooking recipes. We've been talking a lot. He’s from Morelia, the same place my mum was born. So his restaurant does regional cuisine from that area. I like his food. He samples very well the dishes from that region.”


Which other cuisines are you fond of?

“Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, and sushi and lamb dishes. We have different friends from different nationalities. I think that’s the beauty of Australia that it’s such a cosmopolitan country and you can find first- and second-generation people who are still doing their home cooking without too much outside influence.” 


Let’s talk tamales. How on earth do you make them look good?

“After steaming, I prefer to keep them a little bit folded in the corn husks or banana leaf. It’s a bit messy, but that’s the traditional way. I went to a restaurant and they were serving it with some type of salad on top. I think a nice salad will make it look good, or a salsa. I like spicy chile de árbol, and morita salsa a little bit more.”


Are tortillas a breakfast food for you?

“Yes, we eat mainly eggs, beans and tortillas and salsa. Have you heard of huevos rancheros? It's served with a fried tortilla and a sunny egg on top. Some serve it with two sauces and that’s called divorced eggs. The most important for me is a nice sauce. To make it, just grab your favourite dried chillies, boil them a little bit with a garlic and an onion, and then blend it. It’s very nice, but you have to serve it with fried beans.”


How has Mexico changed over the last 10 years?

“Unfortunately, certain things are changing. The cuisine hasn’t changed a lot. New tendencies and different drinks and liqueurs come up. A little bit earlier, like three to five years ago, I wouldn’t find a packet of corn tortillas in the supermarket. Now you can. It’s more modernised. Before, you had to go to the tortilleria – the tortilla shop – now that part is getting more mechanical.”


Visit Fireworks Foods.