I prepared the following for a school teacher who wanted to teach a class how to make some Venezuelan foods for a social studies class, then later adapted it to send to Carole Walberg as a thank you for recipes she sent to me. As I was sending it, I thought it might be something of interest for your International Foods List. Use it as you see fit, or whatever.
The ingredients necessary to make traditional Venezuelan foods may be very difficult to find in the United States. Much of it contains roots, such as yuca, or a type of sweet potato
(called batata) and a whole variety of other things that I have never seen in the U.S. The ever-popular *arepa* is made with ground, cooked
white corn meal
, which may be impossible to find. As you can see, this could be a challenge. (When we lived in Connecticut, we had to go to the Cuban section of Hartford in order to find plantain
bananas and black beans.)
Here are some of the most popular *criolla* dishes that are readily available in local restaurants and made by Venezuelans at home.
The *arepa* (ah-ray-pah; with the accent on the middle syllable) is the local equivalent of a hamburger
and is sold in shops called an *arepera* (ah-ray-pay-rah; with the accent on the third syllable). The arepas are cooked
fresh. The buyer looks in a cafeteria type hot
table to choose the filling s/he desires.
Fillings include shredded cheese
, stringy meat cooked
in spices, chicken
salad with avacado, egg
scrambled with onion
peppers, diced sausage, and a variety of other things. Perhaps the most popular filling is grated American cheese
(the one that has a cheddar flavor and is somewhat soft
The arepa is split
open like a hamburger
bun (by the person behind the counter), some of the steaming moist corn meal
is scooped out and discarded, and the filling is added. The arepa is wrapped in a square of slick paper, like butcher paper, and handed to the purchaser to eat standing up.
Arepas are also made smaller and served in the bread basket
An arepa may be cooked
three different ways. Boiled in water, baked
in the oven, or fried in hot
oil. In the country they are often cooked
on a charcoal grill. Most often they are browned on the outside by cooking briefly on a hot griddle
, and then placed in the oven (400 degrees) for 15 minutes.
(Remember: the corn meal
that is used is pre-cooked
, so the *cooking* process is only to give the arepa some color
and to make it hot
.) The arepa is *done* when it sounds hollow
HOW TO MAKE AN AREPA
Take a cup of finely ground, pre-cooked
, corn meal
(white is preferable, but yellow is also used), add an equal amount of water, a dash
and a teaspoon of cooking oil.
Kneed the mixture with your hands until it is thoroughly blended into a dough
Take a small amount of the dough
and pat it into a flat, round cake, about the size of the palm of your hand, or slightly smaller. It should be about a quarter of an inch thick. Shape and press
it around the edges to make it even and smooth.
Continue making more cakes until the dough
is used up.
a heavy skillet
and place it over a low flame. It should not be too hot
. When the surface is hot
place the cakes, one or two at a time, on the griddle
on both sides. Put them in the oven to bake
for about 15 minutes.
(You may also fry
them, turning once, in about a quarter inch of hot
TO SERVE: Slice the arepa like a hamburger
bun, discard some of the steaming meal
that is still soft
in the middle, fill with choice of filling, close the arepa and serve immediately.
Alternate method: make small arepas about the size of a silver dollar and fry
in oil until golden brown
on both sides.
Serve as bread
with a meal
. Have butter