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Mushroom Skills and Macro Bowl Fantasies With ‘Los Espookys’ Star Ana Fabrega

The actor and writer reveals her favorite vegan dishes to eat at home and abroad

Original photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty

Ana Fabrega is one of the breakout stars of the summer’s freshest and funniest new series, Los Espookys on HBO. Drawing inspiration from telenovelas and horror films, this absurdist Spanish language comedy about a group of professional scarers sometimes feels like an alt-comedy version of Ghostbusters, where the main characters are the ones manufacturing all the mayhem. In addition to co-creating and co-writing the series, Fabrega also plays Tati, the most aloof yet endlessly optimistic member of the gang, who seemingly always has a new, weird side hustle. The first season of Los Espookys just wrapped up on Sunday night, and all six episodes of the series are now available to stream on HBO Go/Now.

The conclusion of Season 1 seemed like the perfect time to chat with Fabrega for the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire, an interview series where we talk to our favorite people in Hollywood about their dining habits. The Los Espookys co-star and co-creator recently hopped on the phone with Eater while traveling through France to chat about her fascination with knock-off chocolates, her favorite chain restaurant, and the very best way to cook mushrooms.

Welcome to the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire. What’s the last thing that you ate?
Ana Fabrega: I had a little bit of bread. I’m Paris right now, and my sister wanted to get a croissant. We went to a bakery, and the only vegan stuff was bread.

Did it live up to the high standards of Parisian bread?
Yeah, it was good, but it was also bread that I could eat in New York.

What was the last thing that you drank?
Beer. I am at a bar right now and I just stepped outside. I’m having a Brooklyn East IPA, which I didn’t even like, but it was the only IPA they had.

When and where was the last time you had a hot dog?
I haven’t had a real hot dog in at least five or six years. I’m vegan, and I assume I’ve had a veggie dog or something, but I couldn’t tell you. I never really cared much for hot dogs, even when I ate meat. I feel like the closest thing I’ve had has been a carrot dog, and even then, I don’t know where I had that.

Is there anything you want to eat right this second?
You know, my sister made me want to get something sweet. I have a sweet tooth and I like baked things, but finding baked goods that are vegan in Paris is not easy, and the vegan bakery is not open until tomorrow. If I could have anything right now, I would probably have a vegan cookie or some sort of baked vegan thing.

While filming Los Espookys in Chile, did you get to eat out at all?
Yeah, there was this restaurant called Huerto where I would eat every single day if I could, and I would get the same bowl every single time. It was a vegetarian restaurant, and it was basically like a macro bowl: hummus, avocado, lentils, kale, broccoli, potatoes, that kind of thing.

There are two details in the show that I really love that are food-related: a wealthy family runs a successful chocolate company that rips off American candy, and Tati gets roped into selling a nutritional supplement called Hierbalite. Can you tell me you came up with those specific ideas?
With the chocolates in Central America, there’s a lot of knock-off stuff that’s like blatant copyright infringement of things from the U.S. Like you’ll see Mickey and Disney characters, but things are a little bit off from what you’re normally used to seeing. We were like, “Let’s have the chocolate company be all very blatant knock-offs of American and European brands that are more well known.” And Hierbalite is our take on Herbalife, that nutrition supplement, multi-level marketing company. They target people in vulnerable positions and exploit them to be part of their pyramid scheme that they’ve somehow gotten away with by calling themselves a multi-level marketing company. They target a lot of Hispanic people, so [we thought], “Let’s talk about Herbalife in the show in our own way.”

Left to right: Cassandra Ciangherotti, Ana Fabrega, Bernardo Velasco, Julio Torres.
Jennifer Clasen/HBO

Do you have any favorite, but admittedly strange food combinations?
I remember when I was a kid I used to eat peanut butter and salami sandwiches. I loved it, and people were like, “That’s weird.” And then when bacon and peanut butter became popular, I was like, “Remember those sandwiches I ate when I was 10?” But yeah, I don’t really have anything I eat right now that I think would be weird to someone else, unless it’s weird to put protein powder in your oatmeal.

What is your go-to dinner party soundtrack?
When I have people over for that kind of thing, I think I usually go for Bembeya Jazz National. I’ll put a couple of their albums on shuffle, and it’s just nice background music.

What’s your favorite chain restaurant?
I was just talking to my sister about this. It’s not my favorite, but it’s a place I find myself eating at when I travel in the U.S., specifically. I end up at True Food Kitchen when I’m in Arizona all the time, which I don’t like much, but it’s one of the few vegan things where my sisters live. So whenever I go to visit them, I end up eating there. And then when I’m in LA, I always go to Cafe Gratitude, which is kind of goofy and a little overpriced, I think. But they have a really great macro bowl. It’s the first place I go when I get there because I’m like, “I want to eat that macro bowl.”

Do you see yourself in Tati, or was this a chance to create a character with a different personality?
I think I’m very different from Tati, but Tati is of a combination of a bunch of things that fascinate me about other people. I really love playing people who don’t have any self-awareness, who are really naive and big-eyed, but to themselves are so worldly, you know? And in addition to being naive, [the character is] being very literal, and assuming the best in people, and always being sincere in a way that is detrimental at times.

Do you have any food that’s like your “Proust’s madeleine,” something that instantly brings back childhood memories?
Black beans, white rice, and fried plantains. My parents are from Panama, and I grew up eating rice and beans and some sort of meat at every meal. And whenever I have rice, beans, and plantains, I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’m definitely Hispanic.” I eat this and I feel so full in a way that other foods don’t make me feel.

Is there a food secret that you feel like more people should know about?
Cooking mushrooms with sesame oil has, like, changed my life. When I started adding sesame oil to my mushrooms, I was like, “Oh my god, why does everyone not do this?” King oyster mushrooms with sesame oil: everybody should be eating them, and once they do, they are not going to stop.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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