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