Venezuela: El Carrito food truck

Planet Berlin: Venezuelan street food

Small car

Chance brought Sharon Schael from her homeland across Mexico and Spain to the German capital. As a DJ, she came to the right place. But she grew tired of Berlin's relentless nightlife and dreamt of opening a cafe. Settling instead on a food truck, Schael initially nicknamed it "El Carrito," or small car, a name that's stuck until today.

Planet Berlin: Venezuelan street food

Blank slate

When Sharon Schael explains what arepas are, she describes them as bread pockets that can be filled with anything that tastes good, meaning diverse fillings that brim with her own signature flavors. The pockets are baked exclusively from cornmeal and are thus practically gluten-free.

Planet Berlin: Venezuelan street food

Savory fillings

Sharon Schael actually focuses on six homemade fillings for her arepas. It's never easy to decide between, for example, the "Con Todo" with black beans, beef, avocado and cheese; or the "La Reina" with chicken avocado salad. One way or the other, Schael's homemade salsa, a souvenir from her time in Mexico, will be the crowning glory.

Venezuelan Sharon Schael spent years as a DJ before she swapped the decks for a fry pan and started to sell traditional arepa street snacks — cornbread pockets filled with meat or beans — in her Berlin food truck.

On Sunday morning, after opening her food truck El Carrito at Mauerpark, the first thing Sharon Schael does is turn up the reggae. "It puts people in a good mood," says the Venezuelan proprietor. Later in the day, she switches to salsa and she especially loves it when people dance. It's the melding of two worlds, something that plays an important role in her life. After all, back in Venezuela, Sharon Schael was a well-known DJ. 

That was before she came to Berlin to try out something new, first opening her food truck and then the seasonal street food kiosk La Casita at Treptower Hafen. Sharon Schael prepares a dish known as a popular street food in Venezuela and Columbia: arepas, or cornbread pockets filled with beef, chicken, or beans. 

Her truck offers five different varieties. "I make traditional food with my very own touches and signature flavors," explains Sharon Schael. A long series of journeys brought her to Berlin ten years ago. Following the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002, she was afraid. "I was crying every day while watching my country fall apart," she remembers.

Venezuela: El Carrito - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

Exile in Berlin

When she was presented with the opportunity to leave, she spent two years working as a DJ in Mexico and another four spinning tracks in Spain. Finally, she was drawn to visit Berlin. She had heard a lot of good things about the city from friends – about the music scene and the nightlife there. "I had a certain feeling – you could call it intuition." 

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But she stopped working as a DJ in Berlin after a few years because she'd had enough of the nightlife. "It had always been my dream to open a café," shares Sharon Schael. She had a very specific vision in mind of a scene in Venezuela: a jungle with waterfalls located directly on the coast. That dream will have to wait. But her food truck, which is painted with bombastic palm trees and decorated with the female mascot of the familiar 'Harina P.A.N.' cornmeal brand, always keeps her close to home.

Author: Sascha Rettig

EL CARRITO (IM MAUERPARK)
Gleimstr. 55
10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg

LA CASITA
Puschkinallee 15
12435 Berlin-Treptow

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