Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The history of the Venezuela arepa (documentary in Spanish)
This excellent documentary by the Universidad Monteávila in Caracas charts the history of the humble Venezuelan arepa - a local maize-flour alternative to the bread roll - from its indigenous origins to today.
Experts in Venezuela's food history and gastronomic traditions discuss the boom in arepa bars, called areperas, that occurred in the 1950s with the arrival of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese immigrants fleeing the post-war poverty of Europe for a new life in the sun.
The first filled arepas were called tostadas and a host of breakfast and lunch bars specializing in quick snacks for workers and schoolkids sprung up around the country to sell them.
But the arepa boom really took off with the arrival of pre-cooked maize flour in the 1960s, such as the ever popular Harina P.A.N., which drastically cut the preparation time for arepa dough and turned areperas into the ultimate fast-food outlets.
The queen of arepa fillings must be the Reina Pepiada, a gooey concoction of shredded chicken, avocado and mayonnaise. The documentary tells the story of how this emblematic dish came to be named after Venezuela's first international beauty queen, the exquisite Susana Dujim who in 1955 was crowned Miss World in London.
Here's a menu of arepa fillings - with translations - for anybody wanting to try one of these delicious Venezuelan snacks.
Recipe: How to Make Arepas
Buying Harina Pan in the UK
Arepa and Co: The only Venezuelan food outlet in London
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
A Glossary of Arepas