Search for Inca Kola

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Full House by Phil Houseal

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I was just trying to get my manos on a bottle of Inca Kola.

Inca Kola is a soda that is popular in Peru. I don’t remember liking it — it’s a sugary sweet concoction whose color can only be described as anti-freeze yellow, with a name appropriated from an indigenous population solely to sell sodas. But I wanted to find a bottle to show my kids.

So I stopped at The Tortilla Factory in Fredericksburg. You’ve probably driven past this place hundreds of time, but didn’t notice it. That’s because it is very tiny and there is no name on the storefront. Tucked between a locksmith and shoe repair shop next to a laundromat, it is about as large as a walk-in closet in a modern Hill Country home, but it is stocked full of goodies you only can find in Central America.

Jorge Sanchez opened it three years ago.

“I didn’t have any experience, but I always liked food and my mom cooked very well, so I decided I wanted to do it,” Sanchez explained. “I saw it as an opportunity as nobody had a tortilla factory in Fredericksburg, and there is a large Latino population.”

While Latinos and non-Latinos alike can’t resist the aroma and flavor of fresh, homemade corn tortillas coming off the press, his store also serves hearty sandwiches and carries a canasta of food items much sought after by relocated Central Americans. The list includes queso fresco (fresh, moist, white Mexican cheese); nopales (cactus stems); chicharrones (seasoned pork skins); shaved ice; chili powder; fruit cups with jicama, cucumbers, chile, and lime; chocolates, dried hibiscus (used as a tea good for the kidneys), and sodas made with sugar cane instead of corn syrup. Alas, no Inca Kola.

“Our most popular drink is Coca Cola in glass bottles,” he explained. “Like our candies, it is made with sugar cane that gives it a different flavor.”

While I was struggling with my college Spanish to chronicle the inventory, Maria — a native of Guanajauto who works as a phlebotomist — stopped in to pick up supplies.

 

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