Judith Ortiz Cofer first published "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica" in Americas Review in 1992. The poem later appeared in a collection of poems, short stories, and personal essays titled The Latin Deli. The collection received much critical acclaim. A reviewer in Booklist wrote that Ortiz Cofer's stories, essays, and poems are a "delicious smorgasbord of the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds recalled from a cross-cultural girlhood. Whether delineating the yearnings for an island homeland or the frustrations of a first-generation immigrant's struggles to grow up in 'el building' in a New Jersey barrio, Ortiz Cofer's work is rich in evocative detail and universal concerns." The poem "The Latin Deli" focuses on a place where Spanish immigrants meet to talk to each other in their native language and to buy food from their homelands. The deli, presided over by the owner, offers a respite from the culture clash they have experienced in America. As they walk down the aisles, reciting the names of Spanish food like poetry, they are able to hang on to the traditions of the past, in order to maintain a clear sense of their cultural heritage. Ortiz Cofer transfers her own experience as an immigrant to art and so establishes a link between herself and the deli owner. Ortiz Cofer suggests that through her poems and stories that center on the lives of Spanish immigrants, she, like the owner of the deli, offers comfort and a sense of identity to others who share her heritage.