The actress says her new salsa collaboration is designed to bring people together through the healing power of food
FRANCIA RAISA IS finally ready to set the record straight about her personal life, and to hear the actress tell it, all roads to connecting with people — and re-connecting with people — lead back to food.
That’s the inspiration behind Raisa’s new salsa collaboration with La Victoria, the California-based company that’s been perfecting the Mexican-American condiment for more than one hundred years. Officially dubbed “La Victoria Salsa Crafted by Francia Raisa,” the collaboration launches today with two unique offerings: a red fire roasted salsa and a green fire roasted salsa verde, both ideal for dipping, cooking and snacking.
Raisa teased the new salsa line in a series of photos with Selena Gomez last week, with the longtime friends both sporting a sweatshirt that read, “No Beef, Just Salsa.” Raisa says the idea for the tongue-in-cheek slogan came after years of being asked about her relationship with the Only Murders in the Building star, and wanting to show that both of them have not only moved on from baseless rumors, but have also moved on to other things they actually want to talk about — like their respective projects.
Raisa’s latest project is salsa, and the How I Met Your Father star says the La Victoria collaboration is a way to expand her brand beyond acting while paying tribute to her Mexican roots. “I really love my fans and all the support they’ve given me over the last 18 years and I’m so glad that I can finally give them a piece of myself and a piece of my culture,” she tells Rolling Stone.
According to Diana De Loza, Director of Retail Marketing at MegaMex Foods (owners of La Victoria), Raisa was the perfect person to partner with to launch a new salsa line. “There’s a saying in Spanish that ‘Love enters through the stomach,’ which means that food is at the center of bringing people together,” she says. “In our culture, you pass on your love through what you provide, and we’re excited to help Francia bring to life something she grew up with, so she can now share it with everybody.”
Rolling Stone spoke to Raisa about the inspiration for her salsa line, the surprising celebrities she sought approval from, and why the new launch is helping to finally put those Selena Gomez “beef” rumors to rest.
Where did the idea for launching salsa come from?
So the reason why I even decided to do this is thanks to my friend, Hilary Duff, who pushed me to jar my salsa after I brought it to her house one day. She was insisting that I tell her where I bought it from, and I was like, ‘Girl, I made it. What are you talking about?’ And on set [of How I Met Your Father], she wouldn’t let me go until I said, ‘Okay, fine. I’ll figure out how to jar this.’ Now I’m not allowed at her house without a jar.
A lot of actors usually look to the fashion or beauty space when it comes to launching a side project. Why did you decide to launch a salsa line?
I moved out at 18 and I didn’t know how to do laundry, I didn’t know how to cook, I didn’t know how to do anything. I was like, “I need to learn how to make food.” And the first thing I learned how to make was salsa, because that was something I grew up eating a lot of, as a first-generation Mexican-Honduran American in Los Angeles. This was before Postmates and I missed good salsa and I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I started learning how to make it.
People would come over to my house — which was like Monica’s house on Friends — and they’d have a key and just come and take my salsa. And so the word just started getting around. After Hilary was like, “You have to start jarring this,” I started testing out different recipes and bringing my salsa backstage to talk shows and game shows when I would be on, and just asking for people’s opinions. I actually did one of Guy Fieri’s game shows and he gave me a food review in front of everyone.
What did he say?
He looked at me and said, “If you don’t jar this, you’re crazy.” And I was like, “You know what? If Guy Fieri said it, then I have to do it.”
You had everyone talking last week when you posted a photo with Selena Gomez wearing a “No Beef, Just Salsa” T-shirt. What was the motivation behind that post?
The idea for the post actually came from the paparazzi when they started following me the week after Selena posted on my birthday [in July]. This guy started asking me questions about her and I was trying to dodge it, but he straight up asked, ‘Selena posted. Are you guys friends again?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, there’s no beef. Thank you, goodbye.’”
The next day, I see headlines everyone like, “Francia Raisa says there’s no beef with Selena” and I was like “Wow, why did I say that?” But then I thought, “Thank you for this gift. I’m going to make merch, I’m going to take a picture and I’m going to use it to promote my salsa.” I never thought I’d be so grateful for TMZ.
What does Selena think of all of this?
I ended up having dinner with Sel a week after she posted me and I told her about the “no beef” idea and she was like “What? I love that!” But one of the craziest things from that moment is I said, “Listen, I don’t know who told you that I got mad at you,” but I broke it down and I said, “Now we’re here, I’m not mad and there’s no beef.” And she was like, “Thank you, I love it. And I can’t wait for my sweater” (laughs).
When the sweatshirts came in, we were actually going bowling together and Selena was like, “Let’s take a picture.” And I said, “Thank you friend. I appreciate it.” And that’s how this all came about.
Has Selena actually tried your salsa?
Yes! I actually taught her how to make it years ago. You know, when we first started becoming friends, I introduced her to Mexican cuisine, because she’s used to Tex-Mex. But the food that I grew up with is a little different and distinct, so I would make her food at home constantly. The first thing she said after I told her I’m making salsa was, “Cool, can you make your tacos dorados too with your salsa? Because I missed that.” And I’m like, “Yeah, girl. We’re back together now.” Food is really what connected us in the beginning, and it’s food that has brought us back together.
Aside from Selena, whose opinion meant the most to you when you were testing out your salsa recipes?
My mom. She’s Mexican and will tell it like it is, and when I had her try my salsa she was like, “It’s alright. It would go well with some chilaquiles and huevos rancheros.” That was it. There was no, “Mija I’m so proud of you!” or “Oh my god, how exciting!” But to me, it was fine. It’s basically her way of giving approval and praise.
Aside from the flavors of your salsa, what is something you want people to take away from this launch?
I’m so glad that I could finally give a piece of myself to people and a piece of my culture. When I was young, my parents would pack bean burritos for me for school and kids would make fun of me, and I came home and I was like, ‘I don’t want that anymore.” I was so embarrassed. But when I moved out, I missed it. I missed my Mexican culture. And so, I’m learning to bring it back to life and to help other people embrace their cultures too.
With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s so important to express ourselves and to express our cultures. And I’m really excited to go to do that through food.