By 300 Sandwiches
A few years ago, E visited his aunt and uncle, Ines’ parents, on Margarita Island. E reflects about his time in Venezuela like recapping an episode of “Monty Python.” Madcap, unexpected, hilarity, frustration, and just happy to make it out alive. Oh, and some good food and majestic views. Political situation aside (which, E says, was just as unsettled then as it is now), E learned three things while there:
- “There are more fake boobs than real boobs.”
- “Finding a random guy on the street to change your money with is better than going to the bank.”
- “Even if you speak Spanish, pretend you don’t speak Spanish. Particularly to the cops. When you get stopped at roadblocks set up wherever the hell they want, just say, “no hablo.” They’ll give less of a hard time if you pretend you don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Ines herself confirmed the money one. I didn’t ask her about the roadblocks. I don’t need to confirm the boobs. Everyone’s experience is different, ya know.
Aside from the treasures above, Venezuela is also home to the arepa, and this lunchtime treat, the arepa reina pepiada. Translated, reina means queen, pepiada means curvaceous (hello, high school Spanish!). Chicken, avocado, and spices are mashed and stuffed in the warm arepa. I packed one up for E for lunch today.
Speaking of lunch, one of our Venezuelan readers, Yicell V., told us that anything can be stuffed into an arepa, except for maybe peanut butter and jelly. It’s not impossible, just not that common…..until THIS GIRL started making arepas. Dessert, perhaps?
1 cup masarepa (or harina de maiz)
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
ground black pepper
Make arepas: Combine masarepa, water, and salt into a bowl, until a wet dough forms. Let sit a few minutes to let flour absorb the water. Then, form dough into 4 inch patties of about an inch thickness. Melt pat of butter in skillet. Brown patties about 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping once. Then pop patties on to a greased baking sheet at 300 degrees for about 10-20 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let cool.
For reina pepiada: mash chicken and avocado together, then stir in remaining ingredients. Slice arepa in half and stuff chicken mixture inside. Makes four sandwiches.
Note: most people add mayo to their reina pepiada. I found it wasn’t necessary once you mashed a super ripe avocado and the juices. Feel free to add a tablespoon or two to yours if you like.