“Did you see Chef, the film about the fellow who renovates a dilapidated food truck?” I asked Julie Ocampo, who was proudly serving up Mango Chicken from the side window of the recently acquired food truck, Que Sazon.
“Yes,” she smiled broadly, “this old truck was in worse shape than the movie version. It broke down on the highway and we had to have the transmission replaced before we could get it home.”
In June, after a lot of elbow grease, Julie, her Colombian-born husband, Fabian, and his mother, Elizabeth, entered the growing market of truck vendors.
The mother/son kitchen combo offers an extensive, authentic and tasty South American menu, including such classics as Arepas stuffed with Mango Chicken and Avocados topped with Chimichurro Mayo, $6.50; Chicken Empanadas, $6; Fried Yucca, $3; and my favorite Arroz con Pollo, $6.
I must pause to elaborate on the Yuca Fries. (Pronounced: yoo-cah. Do not confuse with Yucca spelled with two “c’s”, that’s an ornamental plant.) Yuca Fries are crispier and creamier than our French fries and are made from the root of the cassava plant. But holy frijole they are good, especially with Que Sazon’s dipping sauce, though I neglected to inquire about the ingredients.
Most often arepas are served with cheese, or jams or split to form sandwiches. But whichever way they are eaten, they are a staple part of the Colombian diet. If Colombia is not on your destination list right now, Que Sazon will introduce you to the country’s cuisine.
The food truck can be found at City Garden, Wells Fargo, and BJC at Scott and Taylor. Check their website for precise locations and menu updates.
My Introduction to Arepas
I’ve eaten Arepas in South America and helped make them in Bogota and in my farm kitchen alongside my daughter’s mother-in-law. This flat bread made of a mixture of ground maize water and salt and stuffed with cheese.
As you can see in these pictures, making Arepas is a labor intensive, multi-step project, an all-family activity like making Christmas cookies.
Here we were making dozens of the cheese-stuffed variety, far more than I thought would ever be eaten. To my surprise they all disappeared.