Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eating out - Arepera Glossary

Arepas are Venezuela's homegrown alternative to bread or rolls, cornmeal "cakes" about the size of a hockey puck that are crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.

Infinitely versatile, they can be eaten solo with butter or opened up and stuffed with a variety of fillings to make a delicious snack.

While most Venezuelans will eat arepas at home, if you want something more exotic - to quell your lunchtime hunger pangs or soak up the alcohol after a night on the tiles - then head to an arepera, Venezuela's very own fast-food joints.

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 brief glossary to help you negotiate the more head-scratching menu items at a typical arepera.

Arepa - Cooked cornmeal pocket stuffed with various ingredients.
Arepitas - Small fried arepas served as a starter to eat with nata (sour cream), or with soups and stews.
Arepa de Trigo - Large arepa from the Andes region made from wheat.

Aguacate - Avocado
Aguita 'e Sapo - Literally "Frog Water", but don't let the name put you off. This is just pernil (roast pork) in its juice, served with fried cheese. Found almost exclusively in Maracaibo.
Atun - Tuna salad with onions and a squeeze of lemon
Caraotas negras - Black beans
Carne mechada - Shredded beef
Chicharron - Pork crackling, also known in UK as pork scratchings
Chorizo - Spicy sausage
Diablitos - Devilled ham
Domino - Black beans and grated white cheese
Ensalada de Gallina - Chicken salad
Jamon - Ham
Montaña Rusa - Quail's eggs in mayonnaise (literally Russian Mountain, the term for a rollercoaster ride in Venezuela)
Morcilla - Black pudding
Orejas de Cochino - Snippets of pigs' ears in sauce
Pata-pata - Black beans, yellow cheese and avocado
Pelua - Shredded beef and grated yellow cheese
Perico - Scrambled eggs cooked with chopped tomato and onion
Pernil - Roast pork
Pollo guisado - Chicken cooked in a sauce
Popurri Criolla - Shredded beef, black beans and white cheese
Queso - Cheese
Queso de mano - Literally "hand cheese", a traditionally-made soft white country cheese
Queso Guayanes - Another soft white cheese
Reina Pepiada - Chicken, avocado, mayonnaise and peas

Guasacaca - Avocado sauce similiar to Mexican Guacamole but not as thick. Great for drizzling over arepas or empanadas. Every arepera has their own recipe.
Salsa picante - Hot sauce. Again, every place has its own recipe, so test to see if you can deal with the heat before drenching your food.

By Russell Maddicks

Recipe: How to Make Arepas

Buying Harina Pan in the UK

La Reina Pepiada: The Curvy Queen of Arepas

Arepa de Maiz Pelao: Making Arepas the Hard Way

Recipe: Caraotas Negras - Venezuelan Black Beans

Recipe: Carne Mechada - Venezuelan Shredded Beef

Pabellon Criollo - Venezuela's National Dish


Rich said...

hey russell,

thanks for your comment. the arepa here looks great! it's from venezuela i presume? have you found any good arepas in the UK?


a faceless savage said...

there is a great arepera in Camden Town market, where all the food kiosks are (by the bridge, behind Lock 17) and not only they do great arepas but also they have the best Guasacaca sauce I have ever tried. They are usually there on Saturday and Sundays...

Premaswarupa said...

hahahaha Im from Venezuela :P
Im very glad to find this here :)

Arepas in the UK???
Really? :) nice

Russell Maddicks said...

Hola Faceless Savage,

I went to Camden and the arepas were good, so were the pabellon criollo and the guasacaca.
But where else can you get these things in the UK?
Anywhere else?
I wrote a new blog about it...
Arepa and Co: The Only Venezuelan Food Outlet in the UK

Nathan H said...

hey Russell, love your site! I am an American who married a Venezolana and I love the food and cooking it! Do you have any recipes for arepitas fritas/dulces con anis?
I LOVE those and would like a guide on how much anise and sugar to add to the conventional arepa recipe.
thanks, keep up the awesome site!


Anonymous said...

I found your site because I was trying to make a traditional venezuelan dish. I was wondering if you know how to make nata or if it can be bought anywhere? I have tried just using sour cream but the consistency and flavor are different. I would love the help!