Venezuelan politics and our current economic crisis have been dominating the news for a long time but because food is way better than my country’s politics, and Venezuelan cuisine is one of the many reasons why I love my country, I thought about sharing with you some of our traditional dishes while I try not to cry because of how much I miss them. I hope that this post is enough to show you that Venezuela is much more than all the negativity the media and many people tend to highlight.
There are only certain recipes I can cook here in Amsterdam or anywhere in the world, as they do not require neither fancy nor special ingredients, but there are others that will simply and unfortunately have to wait until I go back to Venezuela.
Here we go, a list of extremely delicious Venezuelan dishes that are super tasty and as colorful as our flag:
Pelúa (The Hairy)
Rompe Colchón (Matress Breaker)
Sifrina (The Preppy One)
Perico (literally translated into “parrot”, and slang for “cocaine”)
It is a bit hard to describe an arepa, but let me try: An arepa is a corn based “flatbread” formed into a patty. It can be grilled, baked, or fried before it is split open and stuffed with literally anything you want. It is one of the most traditional Venezuelan dishes you can try and it is definitely one of my favorites! As arepas are so easy to make and the flour you need for the mix (Harina P.A.N.) can be found basically in every supermarket with an international section, I highly encourage you to make them and I promise you will not regret it!
I introduce you to the Venzuelan version of pancakes. This sweet and savory dish is made from corn dough and traditionally served with a type of soft white cheese called queso de mano, which literally translates into “cheese of the hand”, but it can also be eaten with a meat of your choice. This delicious treat scores high on my list of favorites and it will be the first thing I eat as soon as I arrive in Venezuela.
Empanadas are deep-fried and half-moon-shaped corn pockets that can be stuffed with anything your imagination allows you to think of. They are made with the same flour used to cook arepas, and the result is simply beautiful. Many Latin American countries have their own version of empanadas, and maybe I am a little biased when I say this, but nothing like the Venezuelan version.
Tequeños are small sticks of salty white cheese wrapped in slightly sweet dough and fried to golden perfection. It is common for foreigners to compare tequeños with mozzarella sticks after this type of description (I strongly recommend you not to do it, unless you want to offend a Venezuelan), but it will only take you one bite of this piece of heaven to take it back. And just so you know, there is no such thing as a Venezuelan party without tequeños as they are the most iconic party snack.
Plato Navideño (Christmas Plate)
The hallaca is the most traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish. It is a version of the corn tamal (yes, I know what you are thinking; we love corn very much). Just like arepas and empanadas, hallacas are made with the same corn dough but in this occasion the dough is mixed with annatto to give it its characteristic yellow color. An interesting fact about the origin of the hallaca: when we were a colony, the slaves used all the leftovers of their owner’s Christmas festivities and came up with this dish (thank you ancestors!) that nowadays is usually stuffed with a stew of beef or pork, “adorned” with raisins, capers and olives, folded in plantain leaves, tied with strings, and boiled. The star of our Christmas dinner requires hours of preparation and it is commonly cooked by the entire family in some sort of party or celebration with a great atmosphere.
The pabellón criollo is our national dish and the most traditional one after the arepas. It is a delicious combination of shredded beef in stew, white rice, black beans, and tajadas (fried plantains in slices).
Patacones or tostones are twice-fried-green-plantain thick chips that can be served as an appetizer or side dish with sprinkled salt on top, or as the main course when accompanied by any meat of your choice. They are very easy to make so you should start cooking them as soon as you finish reading this blog post.
As I just showed you, Venezuelan cuisine takes simple ingredients and transforms them into unique and incredibly delicious creations. I could actually continue showing you many more Venezuelan dishes but I think I have suffered enough, and I also think that these choices already made you hungry and left you wanting to pay Venezuela a visit, which was the main purpose of my blog entry.
With a hunger for Venezuelan food and the desire to go back home to taste all these mouth-watering dishes again, I will say goodbye. And remember, you cannot buy happiness but you can buy Venezuelan food.
Until next time,
M. Victoria Barroeta.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
All the pictures of food used for this blog post were taken from Google Images.