There is a dish in Venezuelan and Colombian gastronomy that has started fun debates on the Internet: the arepa. Experts agree that this preparation existed before the arrival of the Spanish to both territories. And although corn is the key ingredient in this traditional dish, there are marked differences between Venezuelan arepas and Colombian arepas.
Furthermore, let us remember that the arrival of the arepa to international cuisine has allowed Venezuelans and Colombians to use social networks to show the differences in its preparation. Let's see in this article what is the origin of Venezuelan arepas and what are their differences compared to Colombian arepas.
What is the origin of Venezuelan arepas?
To understand the origin of this dish we must embark on a trip to the Andes mountain range during the pre-conquest era. The Timoto-Cuica people , ones who inhabited the mountain range around what is now Venezuela, were the first to prepare and eat arepas.
Thanks to their irrigation and cultivation techniques, grains such as corn and cassava were abundant. Hence, the people ground the corn and used it to create an unleavened cake, that is, the first version of the arepa. However, near the Colombian Caribbean, the Arawak had their own version of the arepa, known as casabe . This one used cassava instead of corn.
Time moved forward to the independence of Venezuela and Colombia thanks to Simón Bolívar in the 19th century. When this happened, Colombia took the recipe with it and adapted it to later turn the arepa into its own dish that had differences in preparation with respect to the original Venezuelan arepas. Now, two centuries later, there is a friendly and fun rivalry between the two countries over who makes the better version.
How are Venezuelan arepas prepared?
Let's now talk about the Venezuelan arepas that currently exist and their differences compared to the Colombian preparation. The Venezuelan arepa is a cake made from corn flour that can be grilled, fried or baked. This is usually thicker than the Colombian version. These arepas are eaten especially at breakfast time and are usually filled with egg, meat or chicken.
Now, the names of Venezuelan arepas change when different fillings are added:
- Stuffed arepa: when it is filled with some protein or cheese.
- Pepiada: when filled with black beans, cheese, plantain, shredded beef or chicken, and pork skin .
- On horseback: when it only has fried egg on top.
- Catira: when stuffed with chicken and yellow cheese.
- Pelúa: when it is filled with shredded meat and yellow cheese.
How are Colombian arepas prepared?
In Colombia arepas are also eaten during breakfast. However, it is common for them to also be used as an accompaniment to some meals for the rest of the day. The ingredients tend to be a little more sparse, compared to Venezuelan arepas, plus the corn cake is thinner and often sweeter.
In Colombia, arepas are named in relation to the ingredients and region:
- De choclo: it has a little sugar in the dough and is traditionally served along with a cup of chocolate.
- Egg: fried, then opened, an egg is broken inside and then fried again.
- Boyacense: Originally from the Boyacá region in Colombia, this arepa is filled with milk curd and prepared in the oven.
What is the difference between Venezuelan and Colombian arepas?
As we reviewed, Colombian arepas rarely have any type of filling, while Venezuelan arepas must always have filling. In Venezuela they are eaten during breakfast or dinner, and in Colombia they are more of a companion to any dish since, as they do not contain filling, their flavor and neutrality can make them the perfect garnish for any preparation.
A dish that takes us home
It is impossible to know which arepas are the best: will the Colombian ones and their unique flavor win? Or will the Venezuelan arepas and their variety of fillings take the prize?
No matter which one is your favorite, there will be something that both nations agree on: an arepa will always transport us to our home and remind us of what family and traditions taste like.
If you are looking for a good arepa that reminds you of home, but want to save time on preparation, visit Mama Foods' arepas and cachapas section now . There you will find Venezuelan arepas or Colombian arepas prepared full of the tradition and culture of both countries.You can also visit our website and make your Venezuelan market. Get to know her now!