Source: Mexican Flavor | Melissa Guerra
"I grew up in Texas, but I felt like I was growing up in Mexico," says Melissa Guerra, a cookbook author and TV chef who was born in the border town of McAllen in the southernmost part of the state. It helps explain why her eponymous company— with its catalog and Web site—is such an impressive new source of authentic Mexican ingredients. She sells everything from molcajetes, traditional mortars and pestles made from lava rock ($25), and tortilleras, for pressing homemade tortillas ($20), to spicy chorizo (1 1/2 lbs for $20) to seeds for growing cilantro, epazote and jalapeños ($10). The catalog also includes some of Guerra's favorite simple recipes, like cilantro tortillas and agua de jamaica (hibiscus-flower tea), and cooking tips, such as the best way to render, or soften, dried chiles. Guerra isn't the only food professional in her family—her brother is a rancher who raises cattle and specializes in Mexican cuts of meat (877-875-2665 or www.melissaguerra.com).