Hermanas Unidas de UCSB sold both sweet and savory empanadas. All food items were handmade by student club members.

UC Santa Barbara’s Raíces de mi Tierra held its second annual Sabores de mi Tierra night market at Little Acorn Park on April 20. 

Intended to bring some of the flavors from Mexico to the Isla Vista community, the market was made up of several on-campus Latine clubs and organizations. Sabores de mi Tierra translates to “flavors from my land,” so each organization was in charge of bringing a dish to sell at the fundraiser. Present at the fundraiser was UCSB’s Raíces de mi Tierra, Hermanas Unidas, Lambda Sigma Gamma, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Comunidad Latinx Graduación and Latinos 4 Politics. After seeing the event flyer on Instagram, I decided to give Sabores de mi Tierra a try. 

This was the second year Raíces de mi Tierra hosted the event, and they plan on continuing to have the night market each year. Event organizers and club members third-year aquatic biology major Sarah Rodriguez and third-year sociology major Roselin Villa hope to turn the market into a yearly staple for the community. They were responsible for reaching out to all the clubs and organizations involved and asking them to participate in making food to sell. All the food served was entirely student-made. The profits from the event are used to cover the cost of renting the park, and the rest is kept by the clubs and organizations to cover their needs.

This year, the food sold at the market included strawberries with cream, dessert and meat empanadas, aguas frescas, corn esquites, shaved ice and fruit. 

The fun and welcoming energy of Hermanas Unidas drew me into their booth, where I tried the homemade dessert and meat empanadas. The sweet empanada was filled with strawberry jam and chunks of strawberry. It was deliciously sweet and the empanada itself had an almost puff pastry texture that was flakey and not too dense. As for the meat empanada, it was full of flavor and reminded me of Porto’s Bakery’s potato balls, since the filling was a combination of ground beef and onions, along with plenty of seasoning. The ratio of pastry to filling was quite good and combined nicely in the mouth. Overall, the empanadas were a delicious treat, and I would enjoy seeing them return next year. 

The meat empanadas were filled with ground beef, onions and seasonings.

After eating my empanadas, I made my way over to Raíces de mi Tierra’s stand to purchase a drink. They sold three flavors of agua frescas: jamaica, watermelon and cucumber lime. They also had the option to add a Tajín and chamoy rim to the cup to make the drink more flavorful. I tried the jamaica with the rim, and it was the perfect drink to wash down my empanadas. It was refreshing and subtly sweet, which really let the hibiscus notes come through and had a nice taste of home. The added element of Tajín and chamoy — although a little messy around the cup — made for an interesting combination of flavors that I was a fan of. 

The jamaica, watermelon and cucumber lime aqua frescas came with the option of a Tajín and chamoy rim.

Another refreshing treat offered was the fruit stand by Latinos 4 Politics. They had a variety of cut fruit available with the option of adding Tajín and chamoy, which was mouth-wateringly delicious. Combining fruit with Tajín and chamoy is a staple in many Mexican households, and I loved to see the tradition being shared with the I.V. community. Overall, the fruit cup was a tasty treat that had a nice kick to it. 

While I was not able to try the other food at the market, several students were lining up around the stands. The ambiance of the event was lively, and students were all conversing with each other as they got their food. There was a strong sense of camaraderie at Little Acorn Park. Sabores de mi Tierra was a fun and delicious event with great energy, and I can’t wait to go again next year.

A version of this article appeared on p.8 of the April 25, 2024 version of the Daily Nexus.