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Cooking, Dancing, Hoping: A Day in the Life of a Smorgasburg Food Stall

Cooking, Dancing, Hoping: A Day in the Life of a Smorgasburg Food Stall
Three women who left Venezuela’s turmoil are trying to find their way forward at a culinary market that can make or break a small business.

By midafternoon on a recent Saturday, Ana Fernández was sore. She rolled her neck from side to side, nursing an old injury she’d suffered after a tear-gas canister hit her at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela.

This is her first season running a food stall, Váyalo Cocina (“Let’s Go Kitchen” in Spanish), at Smorgasburg, the weekly outdoor culinary bazaar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has started to get the hang of it — the days of advance cooking, the insistent heat from the portable grill, the endless press of customers — but the rigors of the routine still catch up with her.

As she took orders, Ms. Fernández, 40, scratched them out in an increasingly illegible scrawl. Her wife, Katherine Rengifo, 27, was red-faced after spending all day flipping arepas, stuffed South American cakes made of cornmeal. Ms. Fernández’s sister, Paola, 48, had long since stopped dancing to the calypso music pulsing from a speaker at the front of the stall.

“Que calor” (this heat), Ana Fernández said, fanning herself with a paper plate. She had already served almost 300 arepas and dozens of hot dogs, each prepared to order. “This is what Venezuela weather is like, except there, we lived on the beach.”

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