Photos By Hillary Ehlen
When I started my own business I had a vague idea of what my job would involve. Square One is a shared kitchen and my job was and still is, to manage it. I quickly learned the best part of what I do for a living is working with food business owners who take an idea, a passion for their product and take a chance to see where it can grow.
For this month’s Culinary Spotlight, I sat down with a person I want everyone to meet. A woman who not only wants to share her culinary talents but wants to share the story of her food. Maria Carpenter-Rodriguez is the amazing owner of Maria’s Homestyle Mexican Food based in Fargo.
Maria, originally from Northern California, moved to the Midwest to get a new start. Once in Fargo, she met a man named Frank. She wanted to impress Frank, so she honed her cooking skills by taking on the experiences and memories of her childhood. In California, her aunts and grandmas would gather in the kitchen and she would watch. Food is a story and Maria has a story for every dish she creates. I swear the tradition of the story brings even more flavor to her food.
Through the support of family, friends and co-workers, Maria was nudged into bringing her talents to the public. She wasn’t finding the satisfaction with her job in the often thankless retail world, so she took a chance and started Maria’s Homestyle Mexican Food. But life sometimes has other plans for us. Things did not line up perfectly the first time around. A cancer diagnosis and the timing of things put a halt to the business. Clearly though, this didn’t stop her. In early 2018 Maria was back in the kitchen, cancer-free, creating her food and sharing its story.
Now, most days you’ll find Maria in the kitchen alongside her very entertaining aunt, JoAnn, catering lunches nearly daily and preparing for numerous events. You can find her endless menu of food, fantastic tamales and more at the Red River Market on Saturdays, Drekker Brewhalla, Dia del Taco and at various events throughout the community that she loves so much.
Another major, and I mean MAJOR, perk of my job, is getting to eat amazing food. Maria lovingly shares her food with everyone at Square One – so happy to feed people and share her take on traditional dishes. One of her all-time favorite things is to create new menus to showcase the vast depth of her food story and she does this so well. I am very fortunate to know Maria and be a small part of her venture. I look forward to seeing Maria’s Homestyle Mexican Food keep on growing while building a reputation of love, food and stories.
The following recipe of Maria’s is a staple of her outdoor events. When butter and salt aren’t cutting it, here is a great way to add a little extra something to your next ear of corn.
8 Ears of corn with husks on, fresh is best but frozen works, too
2c. Parmesan cheese
Tapitio Hot Sauce or Tajin Chili Lime Powder
Wooden Candy Apple Skewers (optional)
Fold husk of each cob back but keep intact. Remove silk and fold husk back into place.
Place corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1T. of salt for 10 minutes.
Remove from water and shake off excess water. Place on medium-high preheated grill for 15-20 minutes, rotating periodically.
Carefully fold back husk (watch for steam, it’ll be hot) and use the husk as a holder or use wooden candy apple skewers by pushing the skewer into the end of the cob.
Using a brush, brush a layer of mayonnaise over the corn until completely covered.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the corn.
Top with a drizzle of hot sauce (recommend Tapito) or sprinkle Tajin Chili/Lime Powder all over.