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An Intriguing Contemporary Take on Traditional Venezuelan Food

If we’re going to talk about Venezuelan food, we need to talk about the masterpieces. Venezuela, like the great majority of South American countries, has a diversified culinary landscape. Numerous of its exquisite dishes are renowned all over the country. What can we expect on our visit? Here is what you need to know before you visit beautiful Venezuela. 

Iconic dish

Venezuelan food
Photo credit: Frederick Medina

The arepa is, without a doubt, the most iconic and well-known cuisine in Venezuela. This traditional food is round, flattened, and prepared with dry ground corn or precooked cornmeal. According to historical texts, the arepa is an old dish that was eaten by ancient civilisations before Christopher Columbus arrived in America in 1492. The arepa is a highly affordable and adaptable dish since, in addition to being simple to produce (water, salt, and cornmeal), it may be filled with a variety of items such as cheese, ham, pork, avocado, etc.

The cachapa is an essential dish in Venezuelan cuisine. The cachapa is similar to the arepa in some respects since both contain maize in its mixed form, but the cachapa is made by grinding corn and adding milk, eggs, sugar, and salt. Cachapa is typically served with cheese and has a sweet flavour in general. This meal is said to have originated with the people of Venezuela’s central region. Corn was revered and thought to be of divine origin by the indigenous peoples.

The national dish of Venezuela

venezuelan food
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

We must talk about Venezuelan cuisine by talking about a dish that is considered the national dish. We’re talking about the Pabellón Criollo, of course. Meat, slices, rice, black beans, and plantains are needed to make this delicious dish.

This dish’s origins may be traced to colonial periods in the 18th century when it is said to have originated from the ‘leftovers’ of the enslaved people’s final supper on the haciendas. The meat, rice, and black beans were usually from a day or two before the meeting, while the only thing that was prepared at that time was the plantain slices. As you can see, the ingredients were commonly produced on haciendas, but they didn’t catch on or be considered a proper dish until much later. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Of course, an important part of Venezuelan gastronomy is also the garnishes. One of the most notable is the Tequeño. It is a fried breaded cheese stick or bread dough spear with white cheese stuffed in the middle. It is generally used as an accompaniment to other meals or as something similar to a snack. 

As for the origin of this dish, well, there is no certainty about the source of the recipe or the name. There are three hypotheses, of which the most widespread is that they originate from Los Teques, a city on the outskirts of Caracas. The second hypothesis of its possible origin is that it comes from the same Venezuelan capital, and the last one comes from the Zulia region, whose capital is Maracaibo. 

Venezuelan food for special events

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are delicacies for holidays like Christmas in Venezuela, as in every nation. The Hallaca is unquestionably the meal that represents those occasions the best. It consists of a cornmeal dough seasoned with chicken or chicken broth and pigmented with annatto or achiote (a plant used as a natural food colouring and flavouring), stuffed with beef, pork, and chicken stew. All this stuffed dough is wrapped in leaves from different plants. To cook it in this manner, we submerge it in water. The making of the Hallaca is often a family event when everyone gathers to begin the Christmas preparations. 

While we are on the subject of Christmas meals, we naturally have to bring up the Pan de Jamón, a loaf of bread often stuffed with ham, raisins, green olives, paprika, or red pepper. It is stated that this meal was made from leftover food, precisely as the Pabellón Criollo, and as a result, it is a unique dish.

Pan de jamon
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

These are some of the most iconic Venezuelan food which you can come and enjoy on your next visit. 

If you are hungry for more global flavours, be sure to check out our Gastronomic Experiences page for additional recipes and culinary inspiration.