Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arepa de Maiz Pelao: Making arepas the hard way

Edelmira Jimenez from Cojedes State makes her arepas the old-fashioned way by pounding shucked maize kernels in a large wooden mortar called a pilon.

The pilon is believed to have been brought to Venezuela from Africa with the slaves who worked the sugar, cacao and coffee plantations. Before that, the indigenous tribes of Venezuela used stone metates for grinding their maize, similar to the ones still used in Central America and Mexico.

Working with her son, it takes Edelmira half an hour to pound the maize, before collecting it in a pan and washing it to remove the hard husks.

She then boils the maize, drains off the water, and puts it through the grinder.

Finally, she makes the resulting dough into arepas which she cooks on a flat griddle.

Seeing how much work is involved in making arepas this way, it's easy to see why pre-cooked maize flour like Harina P.A.N. took off when it was introduced in 1960 by Empresas Polar.

The original slogan for the labour-saving instant dough mix was: "Se acabó la piladera!" ("No more pounding!")

Recipe: How to Make Arepas

Buying Harina Pan in the UK

La Reina Pepiada: The Curvy Queen of Arepas

Glossary: Eating at an Arepera

Arepa and Co: The only Venezuelan food outlet in the UK

Recipe: Caraotas Negras - Venezuelan Black Beans

Recipe: Carne Mechada - Venezuelan Shredded Beef

Pabellon Criollo - Venezuela's National Dish

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