“You should try this; it will light that fire in your belly,” said Gus Guzman to a young couple sampling his array of salsas.
Guzman was referring to the Chile Macho, a fiery blend of roasted chile serranos, garlic, black pepper, oregano and cumin. It is rated “extreme” among Guzman’s salsa selection.
“If you don’t think this is spicy, I don’t know what else to give you,” he tells the young lady.
“Oh, it is spicy!” she concurs, proceeding to fan herself with her hands and munch on more chips to neutralize the flavor.
For a Thousand Oaks farmers’ market newbie, Guzman is doing pretty well, attracting some regular clientele every week since he started in January. “This is our busiest market to date,” he said.
Guzman represents the South Coast Farmers’ Cooperative, a grassroots organization that promoted community-supported agriculture (CSA), for one. Coop members travel to Bakersfield every week to plant or harvest organic produce.
Not all his salsas are fiery or “extreme” like the Chile Macho. For the uninitiated, there’s the mild Salsa Verde or Salsa Casera. For the more adventurous, there’s the Smoked Tomatillo Salsa or the Salsa Roja.
One can get a 4 oz. sampler of any of the salsas for $5. The larger jars go for $10 each.
And if there are salsas, chips cannot be that far behind. Guzman suggests the black bean chips, a consistent top-seller, or the flaxseed chips. For the more traditional chip lover, yellow corn tortilla chips are available too.
Guzman points out some dried produce like beet, pineapple and kale chips. “All these dehydrated stuff started in 2005, during the drought … My brother didn’t want anything to go to waste so he came up with this lucrative idea.
“Even kids like the beet and kale chips,” he said, winking at some passing kids.
Pumpkin seeds and sunflower kids complete the array of snacks, coming in interesting flavors such as chile-lemon, cinnamon, mesquite, and cayenne as well as barbecue and onion.
Look for Guzman the next time you’re at the Thousand Oaks market. The coop is also at the farmers’ markets in Altadena, Sherman Oaks and Ventura.
For more information or to sign up for CSA, click here.
The Thousand Oaks Farmers’ Market is open on Thursdays, from 1:30 to 6 pm, at the east end parking lot (Wilbur Rd. and Thousand Oaks Blvd.) of The Oaks Shopping Center.