A story of love, memory, and the power of food

We are Spaniards, we are Chinese, and we are food lovers.

02.04.22 | By Aaron Luo

We are Spaniards, we are Chinese, and we are food lovers. It all started when both our grandparents moved to Spain and opened restaurants. We grew up fascinated by the local cuisine, especially Spanish charcuterie. In Spain, charcuterie is considered a national treasure but also something to eat everyday—on its own or as a cooking ingredient—as we did.

We are Carmen and Aaron. We grew up in parallel worlds, both raised in Spain by Chinese parents, both from families of hard-working entrepreneurs. In fact, Aaron’s grandfather worked with Carmen’s grandmother, who owned and operated one of the first Chinese restaurants in Spain. She even served the royal family! As kids, we both ate Spanish and Chinese food, often combined together in delicious and inventive ways. We loved Spanish culture and were also deeply connected to our Chinese roots.

As fate would have it, we didn’t meet until years later, when we were in the U.S. pursuing separate business careers. We immediately bonded over our similar backgrounds and entrepreneurial spirits, and decided to create a business together. Our first company, Caraa, pairs Carmen’s talent as a fashion designer with Aaron’s business acumen. (The name is a combination of the first two letters of our first names!) We loved our lives in the U.S., but 18 years after arriving here, we realized that something was missing, something about the Spanish way of life. And it had to do with the food.

In Spain, food is our culture, and our culture is food. We missed all of the emotions, the happiness and joy that comes with sharing simple but special meals. We were nostalgic for certain items in particular, and Spanish charcuterie most of all. Charcuterie is considered a national treasure in Spain: jamon, chorizo, and salchichon are beloved ingredients that Spaniards eat every day. They’re actually quite similar to Chinese cured meats, and both our families incorporated it into their regular cooking routines. We both have strong memories of the dishes our parents made as well as enjoying plates of jamon with family and friends.

As hard as we tried, we were never able to find good Spanish charcuterie at affordable prices in the U.S., so we finally decided to bring it here ourselves. That’s how Mercado Famous was born. Thanks to our backgrounds in sourcing and supply chains, we are able to provide the best charcuterie in Spain at prices that make it an everyday ingredient, not just a luxury item.

With Mercado Famous, we want to show that Spanish food is some of the best in the world, but it doesn’t have to be hard to prepare or consume. Our charcuterie tastes just as good with an ice cold beer as it does with a Rioja. A freshly baked baguette is the perfect accompaniment, but so is a grocery-store loaf of white bread. If you have some Mercado Famous in your fridge, you’ve got hors d'oeuvres for a party or a midnight snack for two. At the end of the day, Mercado Famous is more than just a celebration of Spanish cuisine. It’s a reminder—to ourselves and to you—to slow down, gather around the table, and share food with the ones you love.

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