For years, whenever Adela Durazo and her family traveled, she brought a jar of homemade salsa as a gift for their host. A native Tucsonan, Durazo had managed her father’s architectural business for 26 years—but her passion was always salsa.
“People would say: ‘Don’t come without the salsa!’” Durazo said, laughing. “I thought: I may have something here.”
Taking a life-changing leap, Durazo started her Poco Loco Specialty Salsas, crafted with love and the desire to improve peoples’ diets, health, and nutrition awareness. “I want people to eat something that isn’t processed, is chemical and pesticide-free, and organic,” she said.
Durazo found her niche among Tucson’s abundant, varied, flavorful, and lively farmers’ markets. “I realized that I was now involved with a food movement, an educational venue for people to learn to eat better,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this major food movement.”
Durazo has expanded her products to include crab and shrimp dip, guacamole, and other items. Her fruity and spicy salsas have three levels of heat, not unlike Tucson, she said. “They are mild, hot, and stupid hot. I use ten different chilis for the last one.”
While she’s delighted to share her salsa and chat about cooking, no customer has yet managed to wangle a recipe out of Durazo. “I won’t reveal anything, unless someone has an allergy,” she said. “I have one customer who has asked for my recipe for years. I finally told him: ‘When you have five million dollars, I’ll give you this recipe.’ He says one day he’ll come with that check,” she said, laughing. “We’re still waiting for that day.”
For now, the ingredients in Durazo’s salsa, and other products, remain secret.
And after 19 years selling her salsas, Durazo has still managed to stay small. “It was important to me to do this by myself. When I had the opportunity to grow bigger I knew that’s not what I wanted to do. It would take me away from the customer.”
Interacting with her customers is essential for Durazo. “I want people to meet me, the producer. I want to hear their comments, what they are eating, and talk about how to eat better.”
Over time, Durazo has watched her customers raise children into adults. “The kids grow up and bring their own families to the farmers’ market, learn how to eat well, and know me,” she said. “It’s why I do what I do. I can’t tell you the good things it does for my heart.”
Otherwise, Durazo said, “You gotta be crazy to do this. It takes a lot of work, discipline, and sacrifice to give up weekends and weekdays.”
You’ve got to be un poco loco, she said.
Find Durazo at the Trail Dust Town Farmers’ Market, Fridays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; the Oro Valley Farmers’ Market, Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; and Rillito Park, Sundays 8 a.m. – noon (She won’t come without the salsa.)