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Brazilian friends ready to chase dream in a food truck
Look for it starting May 27
Brazilian style empanadas, turnovers filled with meat, chicken or other requested fillings, are among the menu items carried by the food truck

On the move

The Brazilian food truck is scheduled to make the following stops:

Saturday from 1-6 p.m. — Left Nut Brewing, 2100 Atlanta Highway

June 2, from 5-9 p.m. — Bodyplex of Oakwood, 4335 Mundy Mill Road

June 9, from 5-10 p.m. — Tap It, 1850 Thompson Bridge Road

The Oba! Brazilian food truck is coming to a place near you.

Two young moms with roots in Rio de Janiero and the vast land of beautiful beaches, waterfalls and rainforest are using the truck to share their passion for Brazilian dishes with the area.

Longtime friends Elizabeth Martin and Kathleen Canavan-Lima agreed that the name of their food truck, just as their catering business, should be named Oba! — the Brazilian word for wow, cool or awesome.

“Any time we try some good food, we always say wow, so that’s always Oba!” Martin yelled with gusto.

Canavan-Lima gave this example of how the word could be used.

“We got the day off, Oba!” she said with a hearty laugh. “Oba is a good thing.”

Canavan-Lima has lived in Gainesville since the mid-1990s. She met Martin at a party.

“I started talking Portuguese and we have been inseparable since then,” she said. “So we see each other at parties and events and churrascos.”

Chrurrasco is the Brazilian equivalent of barbecue, and the word brings the conversation back to food and the friends’ experiment with the food truck.

Through gatherings of family and friends, the two discovered there is a growing and tightknit Brazilian community in Gainesville. It’s been at those parties that Martin and Canavan-Lima have built a reputation for always bringing great Brazilian food.

Whether it’s at a party or service at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Canavan-Lima has a knack for spotting a fellow countryman.

“I just hear the accent and I automatically know where they’re from,” she said. “I tend to fish, and if I hear somebody speaking with a Brazilian accent I latch on and I have a conversation and then I invite them to our group. That’s how we keep expanding.”

Although Canavan-Lima said her dream has always been to open a restaurant, and even studied hotel-restaurant management in Miami, she’s been working instead as a dental hygienist. However, she said that meeting Martin has fueled her dream again.

“Beth is an amazing cook…,” she said. “With her culinary skills creating menus and my knowledge of customer service, we wanted to do something together. But, we both work full time and we don’t have the finances to put a restaurant together. So, we thought, since we do catering for friends and family, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a food truck? You can take it with you everywhere you go and it’s not so much of a huge risk. It’s something we can do now.”

Martin works in an office tracking shipping and receiving at Mulberry Farms.

Martin said she and her friend have been inspired by Canavan-Lima’s Brazilian mother, Clarice, to take the leap of faith and invest $25,000 to buy and equip the Oba! Food truck. Clarice, who always motivated the two to chase their dreams, passed away two weeks ago.

Canavan-Lima said she’s sure her mother will be cheering from heaven when Oba! food truck takes its maiden voyage today.

“I’m here because she was an immigrant,” she said. “My mother came to New York City with $50 in her pockets. She didn’t speak any English. She met my (American) father and raised me in New York City. She came (to Gainesville) to live with me and then she met Beth and helped Beth with her son.”

Martin jumped in.

“She was a mom to all of us.”

They are dedicating their Oba! dream to Clarice.

“She was brave,” Canavan-Lima said of her mother. “That’s why I think we’re very brave to do something like this.”

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