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June 11, 2021

Latin American cuisine is exotic, varied, and exquisite.  Each of the Latin American countries can prepare a different dish from the same ingredients.

That is why it is so interesting and nice to visit the different countries that make up this region to learn about culture, history, traditions, and especially to know and taste the most varied food and beverage preparations.

However, something is going on in the north of South America. There is a kind of debate or dispute around a specific food and its place of origin.

Yes, we are talking about the arepa, that delicious food that any palate loves, whether Latin or not, but it has not been known for sure if it is a food native to Venezuela or Colombia.

Do you have the same doubt? Don't worry, you are not the only one, on the internet you can find about 2,370,000 associated results and answers to this particular question. So today we will try to answer the frequently asked question: Where are arepas from?

The arepa is a dough or corn flour cake of circular and flattened shape that is commonly cooked roasted or fried, it can be eaten as a main dish or as a side dish, alone or stuffed, and at any meal of the day.

The arepa is a common food in Venezuela and Colombia, however, in other Latin American countries corn is necessary for the preparation of various dishes, for example in El Salvador they eat "pupusas", and in Mexico "gorditas".

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Where was the first Arepa prepared?

It is exceedingly difficult to know. What is known is that the arepa is a pre-Columbian food it existed before the arrival of the Spaniards to America and together with the yucca, to make cazabe, it was part of the basic diet of the natives.

In pre-Columbian times there was no distinction between the current territories of Colombia and Venezuela, so it is difficult to say in which specific territory this food was first prepared.

For the indigenous people, the arepa was their daily bread, and this was due to the good climatic conditions of the region for the cultivation of corn, which made it become an abundant food and allowed different Colombian and Venezuelan tribes to consume it.

Where did the name "Arepa" come from?

This word possibly comes from the Cumanagotos, a tribe located in what is today the State of Sucre, in Venezuela.

These Indians called corn "erepa", the basic ingredient to prepare this food. However, this does not mean that the origin of the arepa comes directly from this area, it is simply a fact that the Spaniards heard and recorded when they arrived there.

 Another version indicates that the word Arepa comes from the word "Aripo", which is a kind of griddle or "Budare" made of clay used by the natives to cook the arepas.

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What is the difference between the Venezuelan Arepa and the Colombian Arepa?

It is difficult to delimit from which specific region the arepas come from, however, the Venezuelan arepa and the Colombian arepa can be easily distinguished from each other, since they have notorious differences that you will learn about below:

  • For the preparation of the dough, the Venezuelan arepa is prepared only with cornflour, water and salt, while butter and oil are added to the Colombian corn flour.

 

  • In Colombia, precooked arepas are usually sold packaged, while in Venezuela, precooked corn flour is sold for home preparation, the best-known brands being Harina P.A.N, Juana, Demasa, CASA and Venezuela.

 

  • The biggest difference lies in the filling. Venezuelan arepas can be served to accompany lunch, or they can be a lunch in themselves.

For example, they can be filled with meat, black beans, ripe plantains, chicken, avocado or eggs. In Venezuela arepas are named according to their filling,

for example, the "pelúa" arepa has shredded meat and grated yellow cheese, while the "reina pepiada" has a mixture of shredded chicken with avocado and mayonnaise.

In Colombia, on the other hand, many arepas usually have nothing inside, or just a little butter and cheese on top, but are commonly consumed as a side dish.

     

    • According to some researchers, there are at least 42 different ways of preparing the Colombian arepa. In the case of the Venezuelan arepa, there are at least 20 different types of arepas.

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    In conclusion, Venezuelans will say that arepas are from Venezuela, and Colombians will say that arepas are from Colombia, and why not? Arepas represent the gastronomy, history, and culture of both countries.

    Regardless of whether they are roasted, fried or baked arepas, whether they are stuffed or colored, whether they are sweet or savory, arepas are delicious in each of their presentations, wherever they come from.

    Undoubtedly, the arepa is a Caribbean food, specifically from the north of South America and it is not necessary to debate about them, it is better to eat them and enjoy them with much Latin pride.