As you head over to the Broadway Farmers Market this Sunday, make sure to save room for Orale Chamo, a new Mexican/ Venezuelan hybrid food stand so authentic its owners tracked down the same flour they grew up with in their home countries to make their creations here in Seattle.
The three ladies behind Orale Chamo describe their cuisine as Venezuelan and Mexican arepas “remixed.” Marisa Franco, Gloria Zambrano, and Lex Mederos, longtime friends and recent Seattleites, decided to bring together two different cultures of food to create a fresh experience. The stand will operate — for now — exclusively at the Sunday market on Capitol Hill.
An initial struggle in the operation was finding the authentic ingredients that the women used growing up. “We wanted the same brand of flour that is actually used in Mexico and Venezuela, and because we are new to Seattle, it was hard to figure out how to find that at first,” Zambrano said.
As Franco describes, the cuisine is a “sweet spot between tradition and innovation.” The three women use recipes handed down from their family members, and incorporate their own personal twists. They said they play with flavors and mix traditions while still honoring their home cultures — with a side-trip through Arizona where Franco and Zambrano met when they were growing up.
Zambrano and Franco represent the Mexican side of the combination, while Mederos provides the Venezuelan perspective. Although both cultures are Spanish speaking, Zambrano pointed out the differences between the Central and South American countries. “We have completely different traditions,” she explained. “And that plays a part in food preparation. When it came to recipes, we picked what we liked from each culture and brought them together.”
The women behind Orale Chamo continue to work day jobs. For now, Orale Chamo is a start in the food and drink business and, who knows, maybe one day there will be a brick and mortar operation.
The food stand venture is in part, a way for the women to feel closer to home. Certain dishes are named after family members who originated the recipe. Made with shredded chicken and a Mexican sauce, the Chicken Tinga is Zambrano’s favorite dish, while Franco favors the lentejas, made with lentils and sweet plantains.
Last week, the women had friends over to sample the menu. Nothing is set in stone, and they plan to experiment and discover what works in the coming weeks at the farmers market. They are excited to join the vibrant food community in Capitol Hill, where Franco says, “people come to try new things and let loose.”