An arepa is a bread made of corn originating from the northeast of Colombia, and which has now spread to other areas in Latin America. It is similar to the Mesoamerican tortilla and even more to the Salvadoran pupusa. Arepas are most popular in Colombia and Venezuela. In Panama, the Arepa is called Panamanian Tortilla.
The word "arepa" may originate from the language of the Caribes andCumanagoto Tribes at the northeast of Venezuela (Carupano, Sucre State).
The arepa is a flat, unleavened patty made of cornmeal which can be grilled, baked, or fried. The characteristics of the arepa vary from region to region: It may vary by color, flavor, size, thickness, garniture, and also the food it may be stuffed with. Arepa is a native bread made of ground corn,water, and salt which is fried into a pancake-like bread. It is either topped or filled with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish.
There are two ways to prepare the dough. The traditional, labor-intensive method requires the maize grains to be soaked, then peeled and ground in a large mortar known as a pilón. The pounding removes the pericarp and the seed germ, as onlythe cotyledons of the maize seed are used to make the dough. The resulting mixture, known as mortared maize, or maíz pilado, was normally sold as dry grain to be boiled and ground into dough.
The most popular method today is to buy pre-cooked arepa cornmeal. The flour is mixed with water and salt, and occasionally oil, butter, eggs, and/or milk. After being kneaded and formed into patties, thedough is fried, grilled, or baked. This production of corn is unusual for not using the nixtamalization, or alkali cooking process, to remove the pericarp of the corn kernels. Arepa flour is lower in nutritive value than nixtamal, with its protein value reduced by half.
Pre-made arepa flour is specially prepared for making arepas and other maize dough-based dishes suchas hallacas, bollos, tamales, empanadas, and chicha. The most popular brand names of corn flour are Harina PAN in Venezuela and Areparina in Colombia. Pre-made arepa flour is usually made from white corn, but there are yellow corn varieties available. Pre-made arepa flour was first created and produced by Empresas Polar, who owns the PAN brand and is the primary distributor of this flour in thecountry.
Electric arepa makers
In Venezuela, various kitchen appliance companies sell appliances like the Tostyarepa and Miallegro's MiArepa, similar to a waffle iron, which cook arepas using two hot metallic surfaces clamped with the raw dough inside. In Venezuela, the arepa is traditionally grilled on a budare, which is a flat, originally non-metallic surface which may or may not have a handle.Arepas cooked this way are called tostadas. Nowadays, it is common to follow the grilling process that forms a crust, known as a concha, within twenty to twenty five minutes of cooking at high heat in an oven. Electric arepa makers such as the Tostyarepa and MiArepa reduce cooking time from fifteen to twenty five minutes per side to seven minutes or less.
Electric arepa makers are not popular inColombia, with most households choosing to prepare them traditionally.
The predecessor of the arepa was a staple of the Timoto-cuicas, an Amerindian group that lived in the northern Andes of Venezuela. Other Amerindian tribes in the region, such as the Arawaks and the Caribs, widely consumed a form of the arepa known as casabe made from cassava (yuca). With the colonization by theSpanish, the food that would become the arepa was diffused into the rest of the region, known then as La Gran Colombia (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama).
Both Colombians and Venezuelans view the arepa as a traditional national food. The arepa has a long tradition in both countries, with local recipes that are delicious and varied.
In Colombia, the arepa has deep roots in...