Blank Slates: Arepas

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You guys-breakfast!

I cannot get inspired. On the weekends I got my pancakes and the like (Pancake Sunday! My favorite), but when it comes to weekday meals- I don’t know. I LOVE oatmeal so much, but I need something where I won’t be hungry 2.75 hours later and digging through my desk for snacks. Wait…I don’t have snacks in my desk for this very reason. As such, around 11 am, I become the Hangry Buddha.

What’s a girl to do?

Arepas!

When I began talks with my friends about starting to cook South American food, so many people told me that I had to make arepas. While they’re not exclusively a breakfast food at all, I figured I’d make them because I do what I’m told.  Well…

I was underwhelmed. I’m sorry for all you arepa lovers out there. I wanted to like them, and I thought I would. I mean, they’re little grit-like-corn cakes, each a blank canvas for me to flavor as I choose with toppings (like in Colombia) or filling (like in Venezuela).

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On that note, there’s sort of a war of wills between Colombia and Venezuela about who makes the better arepas, and even though Venezuela is credited with sharing them with the masses, both countries have their ways. In my opinion, one is not better or worse, but each accessorized very differently, making them unique enough that it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges. In Colombia, the cakes tend to be smaller, and topped simply with butter and cheese, while in Venezuela, they’re used more like slices of bread, often filled with sandwich fillings, both sweet and savory.

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I tried both the Colombian and Venezuelan ways. Because my sweet tooth will not be tamed, I filled my arepa “sandwich” with sautéed and sweetened bananas because that seemed like a good idea, and it was, though it couldn’t seem to make up for the lacklusterness of the arepa itself. If we’re going for options, I’d rather have regular bread, or corn tortillas, or crepes…I don’t know. This was just not my favorite. The uncooked “dough” sort of reminded me of the fu-fu I made alongside the Okra stew. Throwback Thursday indeed.

Still, if you want to give arepas a go, perhaps they can win your heart (and stomach) in a way that they just could not win mine. If you favor the Colombian way, top with butter and queso. If you like the idea of a gluten-free sandwich bread alternative, fill as your heart desires.

Arepas
Serves 10
Colombian and Venezuelan cornmeal cakes
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ cups warm water
  2. 2 cups P.A.N. (or masa harina)
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 TB melted coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Pour the water into a container. Add the salt and cornmeal gradually. Knead until a smooth dough is formed and let rest for 3 minutes.
  2. Separate the dough into 10 portions (20 if you’re making smaller ones). Take one portion in your hands and shape it into a ball, and then press it with your palms to form a hockey puck-like patty shape. Place onto a griddle or frying pan over medium heat, lightly buttered. Cook about 5 minutes on each side. Cut in half and fill to taste, or top with butter and cheese.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/

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