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photoLeonor Egerton advertises a cornucopia of food at her Methow Valley Farmers’ Market booth.

Wrapped Up Taste
Leonor's tamales

Colorful produce, crafted art, musical sounds, alluring aromas: Rain or shine, the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp boils with visitors on Saturday mornings during the warm months of the year. Usually about 30 stands hold very fresh produce for interested buyers. And one of the most popular stands is Leonor’s Tamales, with an original Mexican recipe that includes produce grown at home.

Leonor Egerton and her husband, Michael, decided to open up the tamales business after a tasting “incident” during a Christmas sale at their children’s school. Good-looking tamales were being sold, and they couldn’t help but try them. To their surprise, the tamales were hard, dry and definitely weren’t stuffed with the promised meat as advertised. Leonor knew she could prepare tastier tamales using her knowledge and her mother’s original recipe.

Excellence was her drive. Leonor knew how to cook the filling well, but had a difficult time getting the starchy dough right. She called her mother, who gave her the final tips, and several attempts later, she got the perfect corn-based tamale dough. After signing the required forms and getting the needed permits, Leonor began putting up her tamales stand at the markets in Tonasket, Oroville and Okanogan.

Eight years passed by, and Leonor felt the need to try other markets. The farmers’ market in Chelan initially seemed attractive, but certain issues with the permits and the amount of time she had to drive there from her home in Oroville made the move impossible. Then, her husband suggested that she try the market in Twisp.

photoLeonor Egerton drives from Oroville to sell at the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp each Saturday from mid-April through October.

The Methow Valley Farmers Market (also known as the Twisp Farmers Market) is located at the parking lot next to the Methow Valley Senior Citizen Center every Saturday from mid-April until the end of October (9 a.m. until 12 p.m.). The market, a popular attraction, features seasonal produce from diverse farms in the area, preserves, coffee, prepared foods, crafted art, as well as local and international handmade jewelry, among other items.

For the past three years, Leonor has been bringing to Twisp not only her delicious tamales, but jams, jellies, salsas, pickles, jalapeños, serranos, and—during the hottest portion of summer—fresh lemonade and strawberry juice. Most of the ingredients Leonor uses are grown in a family garden at her home and in her mother-in-law’s yard. Tomatoes, chiles, zucchini, pickles, blackberries, strawberries, and peaches are some of the produce that she uses in her products. Everything natural, no preservatives. The corn husks with which she wraps the tamales are brought from New Mexico, and the corn is from Spokane.

photoSweet jellies and jams are among the offerings at Leonor's booth.

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, Leonor moved to Washington 11 years ago when she married Michael. Their three children actively help her prepare the products that she will sell at the end of the week.

“Sales are much better here than at other markets,” Leonor affirms. Indeed, from the almost 100 pork, chicken and vegetable tamales she brings to the market every Saturday, she’s usually left with no more than 15 tamales, which she brings to a particular customer by the end of the day.

Leonor prepares her tamales and preserves freshly every week in her brand new, commercial kitchen. Even considering the amount of work that it all implies, Leonor and Michael have thought about using the Internet to expand their business. Eventually, they will open a virtual store to promote their preserves, jellies and jams to those who prefer to order online.

The Methow Valley has witnessed Leonor’s success. Even though the weather sometimes affects the condition of her products while being sold outdoors, Leonor is sure it was the right choice to move to the Twisp market, three years ago. “People ask me if I will open a store or my own restaurant, but I’m happy here,” she states. “As long as I’m healthy, I will stay at this market.”

If that’s the case, then many will be hoping for Leonor’s good health for many years.


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