BREMERTON – Under a tent, a vendor is preparing a variety of burritos. On another stand, a kebabbed barbecue is prepared on a grill. Under a nearby tent, a merchant notes a variety of sweets he has for sale on tables spread out in front of him. He points to Mexican candies, peanuts, a bag of grasshoppers.
“You just eat them as a snack,” he suggests, picking up a handful of fried insects, noting their nutritional value and flavor.
Bremerton’s normally quiet Perry Avenue shopping center has received a boost on weekends this summer as its parking lot bustles with activity. A new cacophony of smells, tastes and sounds can be found there thanks to a new meeting of exchange that calls the space home until the end of August.
Omar Mares from Portland owns the Mi Familia Swapmeet, which now brings a wide array of food, clothing, and other vendors to the mall parking lot on Saturdays and Sundays. The strength of the fair is its variety of Mexican dishes, he notes, but the events also shape other culinary styles. Chinese, Puerto Rican and Colombian cuisines will soon join the offerings there, and he’s looking for someone to come up with Cuban dishes, Mares said.
“I try to be as complete as possible, so if and when someone comes into our room, they can know that everyone will have the opportunity to get what they want or to try something out. different, ”he said. . “When they come to visit us, I want it to always be a different experience for them.”
He sees the events as an opportunity to give vendors a chance to bring their culinary creations to the world without a heavy lease or other costly investments. He selected many from staff at other restaurants with dishes he liked with an offer of “What if you did this for yourself?” ” he said. Mares gives them the platform and a bit of his own expertise to help them get started.
“The goal is to create something that is doable and everyone wins,” said Mares. “It’s not just an opportunity for me to enjoy it on my own. I wanted to do something that I could give back and then be proud of what we have to give to the community.
Federal Way’s Alvaro Obeso and his business partner Carlos Granados launched Hay Plebes Mix Food, with a mix of traditional Mexican, Salvadoran and American dishes. Both have daytime jobs but travel to Bremerton on the weekends. Mares helped the two start their business.
Just down the row of food vendors on Saturday, Bremerton’s Keikiokalani Akana Robinson was giving patrons a glimpse of what’s to come in Keeks Street Grindz, a new food truck she plans to launch next month with help from his family. Guests left with sugary drinks and a Hawaiian barbecue on skewers.
“This is our recipe that has been in our family since before I was born,” she said.
“It’s going to be some sort of SoCal, street-plus-Hawaiian style food. We’re going to have a lot of different things, but we’re just showing a little taste. “
The events draw about 20 food vendors and another 30 to 40 vendors to the Perry Avenue mall, Mares notes. Vendors come from around Puget Sound and beyond, as far as Yakima, Everett and Tacoma.
“The main reason we came to Kitsap was because I fell in love with the community,” he said. “It seems like the right place to be, and it’s just a great fit. We think it’s going to be a win-win situation for all of us.
The Perry Avenue Mall will host Mi Familia Swapmeet events until September, when Mares announced they will move to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. They may last all fall and winter months.
Events take place throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays at 2901 Perry Avenue, Bremerton. You can find more information on the Facebook group “Mi Familia Swapmeet” at facebook.com/groups/179078853158973.
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, [email protected] or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.
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