I had no idea how difficult it would be for me to get used to different foods. But almost a month and a half living in Venezuela I still crave peanut butter, apples, bagels, and mac and cheese! The food here definitely is different, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty than the food in the US!
Wow, the food I’ve tried! So let’s start with the drinks- I’ve tried freshly squeezed juice of all different kinds like watermelon, pineapple, tamarind, and guyaba. Also, there’s this amazing drink called tizana” which is chunks of fruit in a cup with a swirl of condensed milk on the sides of the cup and then to fill in all the spaces fruit juice! I’ve also tried agua de panela or aguapanela which is a tea that you make from a big block of sucar cane and you mix the sweet sugar with water and heat it up until you get a syrup. Then you add the syrup to hot water and it tastes like a mixture between tea and apple cider! Then I’ve tried “yuca” which is like a stringy potato as well as“platanos” which are bananas but they aren’t as sweet! I’ve tried “carne en borra” with “guascaca” sauce. “Carne en borra” means “meat with skewer” and all they put on top before grilling it is salt. The sauce is this green sauce with different spices that you put on top of the meat. But this weekend I tried some of the craziest things- piranha and pig… that was killed that morning… and then skewered over the fire! And obviously, last but not least, arepas almost four times a week. I love arepas, which is hilarious because most of my fellow Americans have gotten tired of arepas and still make fun of me because I love them so much!
I love trying new food so I was pretty comfortable trying new food. Especially something like an arepa, it just looks like a small tortilla so I was ready just to try and eat it! What was really difficult was catching the piranahas in a boat and then two hours later eating them! And they didn’t just cook the meat, they grilled the entire fish, only taking out the organs. So when they brought us out the fish, the eyes, scales, and fins were still on them. One of my friends told me to try the eye, and I really didn’t want to- but I did it! It was like a tiny nerds candy, but chewier! Also, the eating the big after seeing a live the day before kind of freaked me out, but it was delicious. Besides those two times I’ve always loved trying new food. But the one thing you have to watch out for is that parasites are very common here so if you eat food from the side of the road or a local shop you can have a really bad tummy ache the next day and have to go to the doctors. That goes the same for the water here. Never drink water from the faucet and never drink soda with ice in it!
Usually the food is prepared just like we do it in America- using frying pans and dishes and it’s very simple to make arepas. Literally all it is is maiz flour, which is a flour made from corn, salt, a little bit of sugar, and water! How crazy is that? It’s almost as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly! So what you do is you mix the the corn flour, salt, and a pinch of sugar into a large bowl and then you add enough water to make a consistency of a thick pancake mix. Then you take a chunk of it, the size of a lime and make it into a round ball. Then you use the plastic bag of corn flour and cut it to make it lay flat. On the flat surface of the corn flour bag you then pat down the ball and make it flat, the size of a bagel and the thickness of a pencil! Then you lay it on a hot griddle and letting it sit there until it turns golden and then flip! After it’s done, let it sit for a while then cut it and half and fill it with whatever goodies you want! The classics is a ham and cheese filled arepa but my roommate Brittany made me was crunchy peanut butter and bananas in a trigo which means flour, arepa (which taste ten times better but are much more expensive)!
Yes, because it is so easy for them to grow corn it is a very simple and filling dish. Also the ingredients are so simple and cheap that it’s a great way for all people with different amounts of money to stay satisfied and it doesn’t require a lot of preparation so almost anyone can make them. Something interesting that I found out was that there is a flour shortage and so that is why trigo arepas are so expensive and why corn arepas are so cheap. Lastly, the size of arepas says a lot about where you are in Venezuela. A big, thick arepa is from the Andes, a small thick arepa is from the Coast and a very big, flat arepa is from the southern part of Venezuela. How cool is that, that if you don’t know where you are in Venezuela, just ask for an arepa and it’ll give you a good idea!