Many years ago we lived in a big city in walking distance to a wonderful little arepa place. We’d never had arepas before and we instantly became addicted.
Arepas a kind of cornbread, round like a small corn pita-bread, crusty on the outside with soft melty cornmeal on the inside. They hail from several Latin American countries, and the ones we craved are from Venezuela, where they split them in two to make sandwiches. There’s a particularly addicting arepa sandwich called reina pepiada, which is essentially chicken salad with avocado. Or a slice of fresh cheese. Or just butter. Oh oh oh.
Fast forward many years, and we’ve been unable to find arepas, or rather, we’ve been able to find plenty of Colombian arepas, but none of the Venezuelan kind. After deciding it probably wasn’t worth trying to get to the 3 yelp-dot diner two hours away in the middle of nowhere, we figured maybe this was something we could make on our own.
So eventually DH got himself a Latin American cookbook. It’s a bit intimidating… sort of the Joy of Cooking Latin-American style. An encyclopedia for a continent and a half’s worth of cooking.
Then my mom bought the arepa maker off my amazon wishlist. And we were in business.
We haven’t quite mastered the amazing rosemary chicken salad of the big city, but we’ve got the avocado down. And the arepas are heavenly. Just as we remembered them.
You don’t actually need an arepa maker to make arepas, you can make them on the stovetop like pupusas or really thick tortillas. But to get them just like the ones at the restaurant, the arepa maker was necessary.
Here’s an internet recipe. The internet makes a big deal about using PAN harina, but we’ve been using instant masa instead to no ill effect.
This week in challenge eating :
Quesadillas (we actually had these last week, but pretend we actually did fried rice last week and not this week).
Leek and potato soup– Leeks are out of season, but we got some anyway. $3 for organic leeks. <$3 for potatoes. And some butter. So $6 for a big pot.
stirfry with the leftover cabbage and other assorted veggies
vegetarian chili– Same as meat chili, but without the meat.
spaghetti with meat sauce