Should you ask your parents, or your grandparents, stories about their childhood and youth, it’s likely they’ll have great anecdotes that roll around a dinner table, a lunch or a family picnic.
This happens because food is one of the main components that tell a story. You can tell a lot about a place’s history by taking a close look at the way people ate, and still eat.
This, of course, is the case with Venezuelan food; a true landmark that is even considered Intangible Cultural Patrimony all over the world. But what’s the story behind Venezuelan Food? There’s certainly more than meets the eye.
Venezuela, like almost every Latin american country, was made up by pre-hispanic cultures that were greatly developed and civilized in their own way.
Back then, the easiest food to grow in practically all areas of the country were corn and cassava, which is why these two ingredients are predominant in most dishes.
Venezuelan food also contains many exotic and delicious fruits because the land in this country is very rich and sets itself to grow some real natural delicacies.
The pre-hispanic diet of Venezuelans was pretty healthy and balanced, however the conquest came to change the game and introduce a real storm of flavors into the region.
When this already gastronomically diverse country was conquered, the indigenous people were greatly influenced by European colonizers.
Venezuelan food was mainly inspired by Spain, Portugal, France and Italy with the introduction of olives and garlic to their repertoire, combining it with their typical meats and vegetables.
But not only does Venezuelan food take some cues from their European ancestors; this gastronomy is particularly rich because it also takes from African migrants from centuries ago as well as some Native American tribes and even their own indigenous ancestors.
You could say that Venezuelan food is a rainbow of flavors that adopted a bit from each country!
Some of the main ingredients that are usually used in Venezuelan food include white, yellow and purple corn (used widely to prepare all sorts of breads and tortillas), rice, plantain, yams, yucca, beans and different types of meats.
As side dishes, it’s not uncommon to find potatoes, red and green tomatoes, onion, eggplants, squashes and zucchini.
What people use the most as seasoning in Venezuelan Food is sweet pepper, garlic, onion and coriander.
It’s no secret that the location of this country made it into the perfect spot to import, export and trade some of the most cherished ingredients in the world.
Venezuelan food might be celebrated all around the world and even considered as an international delicacy, but we should mention that Venezuelan Food is not the same all over the country.
The region of Venezuela has a very diverse geography, which allows for different settings, climates, flora and fauna. That’s why we can identify gastronomical areas in the country.
The eastern, south-eastern and northern side of the country has one of the widest spectrum of fish -both fresh and from saltwater-, seafood and crustaceans.
You can also find big amounts of potatoes and yuccas, corn, rice, pasta, lettuce, tomatoes and of course plantains. As a fun fact, Venezuela is the second highest pasta consumer in the world, ¡just right after Italy!
In the western region of the country, Venezuelan food includes goat and rabbit meat, a more extensive use of plantains in the dishes and A LOT of tomato and cheese to garnish. This region of Venezuela sees more influence from local tribes and even Colombia.
There’s a region in Venezuela called the Llanos, which are the plains of the country. On this side we can find roasted or grilled beef, dear, lapa, morrocoy and chigüire, which are some local animals. The Llanos produces all sorts of soft white cheese such as the queso de mano, queso crineja or queso guayanés, and other dairy-based products.
On the Andean region (the mountain range area), people enjoy tubers like potatoes and yucca, wheat, lamb, beef and chicken. Since the Andean region has no coastline fish is hard to find here, with the exception of trout.
On this side of the country Venezuelan Food shows strong influence of European and Andean folks.
Ingredients vary depending on the region of the country because it might be harder to get certain products or food whereas they might be abundant in other areas.
As well as the ingredients, Venezuelan food changes in techniques depending on the area and its traditions.
Venezuelan food is so special that it not only varies depending on the region, it can also vary from one family to another, the family traditions play a huge factor on the flavor of this cuisine.
If you haven’t had the chance to meet this amazing country, it’s likely that you’ve tried at least one of the most popular Venezuelan food.
The highlight of Venezuela are actually small, fried versions of their beloved corn: we’re talking about the celebrated arepas (friend pancakes served plain or filled for all meals), empanadas and their mouth-watering tequeños, which are small rolls of bread filled with cheese.
It’s not uncommon to find prepared versions of these dishes and snacks, although there’s also sweet corn flour available to bake your own, and it’s actually not so hard to do it yourself.
As for them cheese lovers, you’d be glad to know that Venezuelan food is all about adding cheese to their meals.
Some of the most common types of cheese are queso llanero to fill your empanadas, queso de mano for your recipes and even queso palmita just to eat like a fresh snack along with some Guasacaca sauce as dip.
Venezuelan food is very uncomplicated and it’s filled with flavour.
It doesn’t matter what you’d like to try, if it’s a full and hearty homemade meal or even if it’s just a popular local snack or treat, with each bite you take you’ll experience flavors like you never had.
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