CONTRIBUTED BY: Embassy, Mission in Pretoria
Arepas is one the most typical foods in Venezuela. Arepas are made of corn flour and they are like bread in other countries. You can eat them anytime, everywhere and with whatever you want. Arepas are typically stuffed with different kinds of fillings like in a sandwich. They can also be eaten plain, cooked with a filling of meat, poultry or cheese, or simply split open and buttered.
Both Colombians and Venezuelans view the Arepa as a traditional national food. The Arepa has a long tradition in both countries, with local recipes that are very delicious and varied.
The word “Arepa” may have originated from the language of the Caracas natives (north coast of Venezuela) that meant “maize” (Corn). Arepas were originally made by the indigenous inhabitants of Venezuela and Colombia but they are also known in Mexico, where they are named “gorditas” and in El Salvador, they call them “pupusas”.
In Eastern Venezuela, the most common variety of arepa is usually about 3 to 8 inches (200 mm) in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Larger arepas can be found, made with either white or yellow corn. In the western Andes, arepas are flatter, and are typically quarter of an inch or less in thickness and 3 to 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter.
For the full Venezuelan experience, visit ‘Las Arepas’ at Five Star Junction, Beyers Naudé Dr, Honeydew, Johannesburg
How to heat them
The AREPA is already baked! It is recommended to warm them in a toaster or regular oven for best results. If the product is frozen, leave it at room temperature for a few hours, or take them out of the freezer the day before, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Toaster: Toast the AREPAS as you would a slice of bread. You might need to toast them more than once, so they become really warm inside and ready to eat.
Regular oven: Heat oven to 350°F. Place the AREPAS in single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet; cover tightly with foil. Warm the AREPAS for 5-10 minutes
Regular Size Arepas
To make filled Arepas split them in half but without completely separating the two halves, scoop out a little of the soft dough filling (optional), and stuff it with your chosen filling. First-timers will probably go for a simple option like ham or cheese, but if you want to try something more ambitious here is a short list of possible options.
- Ground seasoned beef and black beans
- Chopped Chicken salad and mayonnaise mashed together.
- Pork stew
- Crumbled white cheese
- Dips, different flavors
- Scrambled eggs cooked with chopped tomato and onion
- Diced sausage
- Black beans and cheese
- Butter and crumbled cheese
- Ham and cheese (if you find melting cheese much better)
- Tuna salad with onions and a squeeze of lemon.