It’s not yet 9a.m. and I’m standing in a slight winter chill, not too far from the places I wish more tourists would stop to get their South Philly cards stamped.
Dude, I’m downstairs.
And when Ben Miller pops out of a row home two doors down, I’m glad I decided to text him, uncertain as I was of exactly which house it was that he shares with his wife Cristina Martinez. I had visited them about three months ago for the homemade barbacoa they have been cranking out on Sundays for industry folk and close friends to try. This Sunday would be their last at-home rendition/trial run of their lamb barbacoa and accompanying pancita tacos. The former is a name-your-cut affair, while the latter is made from finally chopped lamb offal brought together via a delicious collusion with ground pork and spices inside fresh lamb stomach (due to the USDA, they’ll be using frozen stomachs once they go official).
Starting this Sunday, January 26th at 7a.m., they’ll be posted up outside Mexican bakery Los Rosa’s at 8th and Watkins in a food cart while supplies last. Martinez, who works at the bakery, met Miller, a prep cook at Kanella, while the two were in the kitchen at Amis. They married on July 31st, 2012.
“It wasn’t until a year of working together that we even went out for drinks,” Miller says of a relationship that soon had him feverishly watching telenovelas with a Spanish dictionary while on his break from his subsequent job as an expeditor/bus boy in the early days of Han Dynasty Old City.
The idea of translation fits with his role in helping Martinez bring her vision of barbacoa to a multi-lingual audience in Philadelphia.
“The local Mexican community has already caught on,” he says of the word of mouth buzz Martinez has created amongst friends and La Rosa’s customers. “The food cart is a next step, a new adventure for us. We’re looking to build on that following [within the Mexican community] and to introduce ourselves to a wider audience as well.”
As for his role, he’s quick to point out that he’s supporting Martinez’s vision.