On a holiday that has become more associated with beer over its historical origins, community members in Boyle Heights gathered Saturday to celebrate a little taste of their heritage.

Fresh, homemade salsas were prepared by 14 contestants who participated in Proyecto Jardin’s salsa tasting competition, an event organized as part of the organization’s monthly First Saturdays Community Workdays.

Contestant Xochilt Palomera created her salsa Zapoteca for the first time, which included a medley of poblano, serrano and California chiles, as well as pumpkin seeds and cacao.

Although Charlie Lujan, 73, would not share his secret recipe, he did tell us he used home-grown chiles in a salsa he called Lazarus. “It may bring people back from the dead,” he said, chuckling.

The judges represented various organizations and businesses in the Boyle Heights area, including Casa 0101, Un Solo Sol Kitchen, Corazon Del Pueblo, Ovarian Psyco-Cycles, Building Healthy Communities and Jovenes Inc. With water on hand, they each went down a row of numbered salsas and slowly made a decision on their favorites.

UPDATE: Congratulations to first place winner Ernestina Sanchez who is a member of the Food Grower’s Collective at Proyecto Jardin.

A salsa garden planting session, danza Azteca and a bike ride led by Ovarian Psyco-Cycles were also included in the day’s events.

Click here to learn more about events happening at Proyecto Jardin Community Garden.

Join Cinco de Mayo festivities at the Boyle Heights Farmer’s Market Sunday from 3-8:30pm.

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