This is a post about two sad stories that come together to make something beautiful.
Did you know that I was born in Venezuela? Well, I was. I only lived there until I was 5 but I’ve been back a few times since then. One of my vivid food memories stems from the last time I was there in 2000, I can’t believe it’s been that long! On this trip we went to my favorite childhood restaurant – a steakhouse, go figure. The waiter presented us with a basket of mini arepas instead of a basket of bread or biscuits. It totally boggled my mind.
This story is about a girl who ate so many arepas on her trip that she pretty much swore them off for about 10 YEARS. My grandmother would make them every now and then when we went over for dinner and I always had something else. I was all, “ugh, arepas again??” If you’ve ever had an arepa you KNOW how insane this is.
Luckily for me, my mom made them when she came for Eva’s birth and I fell back in love with them. Pierre has always loved them and secretly wished I would make them. Since March, we have eaten arepas at LEAST once a week.
Sad story #2. I hate bacon. There, I said it. I’ll even say it again just to make your brain scream. I hate bacon. Or… I USE to. The happy ending here is that Pierre begged me to try it over and over again until, alas, I saw the light. I think I use to not like it because it’s just… fat. BUT if you cook the crap out of it then it’s just crispy pork, right?? That’s what I tell myself so I don’t feel guilty eating it.
You can really stuff arepas with anything you want. For breakfast I make them with eggs, bacon and cheese. For lunch I will make it with cheese, deli chicken and avocados or spinach, and for dinner I make it with shredded beef (or chicken), cheese, and avocados. You can add pico de gallo or guasacaca. They are so versatile and delicious. The cheese is a MUST. Shredded cheddar is the way to go here. AND do me a favor. Don’t you dare even look at a fork. Messy hands all the way! Napkins were invented for a reason.
OK – you know I never measure a thing. Same rule applies for arepas. The P.A.N. cornmeal has direction on the back of the bag but I like this post by Jen from Use Real Butter. The only thing that I do differently is the oil – my family doesn’t add oil. Also, we pop the arepas in the oven after they brown in the pan to finishing cooking through.
You really just need a few ingredients to master these.
P.A.N – you can find this in the Hispanic isle of the grocery store
Butter – no fake stuff
Protein – think shredded beef, chicken or pork, bacon, eggs
I love these so much.