Posted by: adventuressetravels | September 30, 2011

Arepas: Colombian Corn Cakes

Arepa in Colombia

The first time I tried arepas was at a street fair in New York.  The vendor passed me one hot off the grill wrapped in a cardboard sheath.  From my first bite I adored the yellow slightly-sweet cheese-filled corn-bread patties.  But where could I find them when there weren’t street fairs?

Much to my delight I found they sold bags of uncooked arepas at my local

Arepa de Chocolo

grocery store, but they never came out the same as the vendor’s.  I always seemed to cook them too long or not enough.  They came out drier, not as sweet, and though they were alright… they weren’t the delicious  food.

It wasn’t until I was in Colombia that I discovered the roots of the food and really learned how to cook them.

Arepas are a staple in Colombian cuisine.  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  You can get arepas de maiz, or  normal corn arepas,  arepas de choclo, or sweet corn arepas, which is what I had on the streets of New York, cheese arepas, and my personal favorite, arepas de yuca, yucca arepas…. the list goes on…  You can find them on the street, in upscale arepa restaurants, and of course there is a huge arepa section in the grocery store.  There are even special arepa cookware available!

But why hadn’t the arepas I’d tried to cook in New York turned out?

It turns out that to cook arepas right, where they are slightly crispy on the

outside and soft and tender on the inside you need to cook them very slowly over low heat.

Just before leaving the country I bought a bag of arepa flour and cooked them on the boat until the flour ran out…

When I got to New York I almost got arepas at a street fair.  Sadly the line was too long… it was all the way down the street!  When I walked past again, a few hours later the stand had sold out.

But street vendors are not the only place to get arepas in New York.  There is an arepa restaurant called Caracas.  Apparently arepas are not just part of Colombian culture, but also Venezuelan.

Arepa at Caracas

I made my pilgrimage to Caracas Arepa Bar on the Lower East Side.  There is always a line outside this tiny restaurant, and for good reason.  Perfectly crispy shell on the exterior with a delightfully softer interior.  These arepas had clearly been slow-cooked over very low heat.

Their arepas are normal corn arepas, rather than the sweeter arepas de choclo found at the street fair.  The price hovers around $6.50 and though not huge they are split open and filled with delicious, creative fillings.  Each one of the scrumptious creations is a light meal, or if you want something slightly heavier you can always order two.

I tried the Jardinera  one of their fabulous vegetarian creations filled with grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, carmelized onions, and guayanés cheese

Arepa flour

My friend ordered the Sereña, filled with chorizo, chicken, avocado, topped with chimi-churri sauce and told me it was equally delicious.

For a delicious and cheap meal, I highly recommend stopping by Caracas to eat in this bustling restaurant, or picking up a few arepas to go.

www.caracasarepabar.com

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Responses

  1. I think that Checkers, grocery store , in Lawrence KS has them, I will look again.

  2. You’ve got a fantastic way with your description. I’m so hungry now, thanks.

  3. i learned how to cook pupusas at home, i love them so much, so now i will also make these!

  4. he! is wonderful that north american people can know the arepa, a delicious snack that in colombia is too famous. in colombia all people rich and poors love the arepas. it is typical from coffe´s zone in colombia and ists called “arepa paisa”


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