The unwritten rules on how to prepare, eat, and serve an arepa make the culture around them even more interesting. You know, those little rituals that are silently repeated over and over again like a beautiful idea spread with the speed of a virus that is meant to remain with the strength of a law. Take for instance what we call “the extra dough rule.”
If you ever had the chance to really witness the ritual of serving arepas, you’ll see how every time an arepa is slit open to be stuffed, there’s some extra dough attached to the knife. Well, before stuffing the arepas people religiously slide the knife on the edges of their plate freeing the knife from the material. That piece of hot dough from the arepa has a function, but I’ll tell you about it later.
The one rule to bear in mind when practicing the art of preparing, serving, and eating arepas is this: nothing. Goes. To. Waste. And when we say nothing, we even include ideas around it.
You see, arepas are like the English language
No, really! One of the features that make English such a strong language for business, tourism, and technological advancement is its capacity to adopt, adapt, and absorb new words. The capacity of English to create neologisms is probably superior to any other language. Its flexibility is its strength.
Same thing with Arepas.
Born in a country with Caribbean coasts, impenetrable rainforests, snowy mountains, and sandy deserts (I guess we are missing volcanoes, but no thanks) Arepas are meant to satisfy every palate and table culture.
It won’t be a surprise for you to see people deep-frying an arepa (this modality usually has arepas modeled after a Compact Disk: with a little hole in the middle). Because of its texture, it’s not a problem for some to keep it on the refrigerator and re-heat the arepa (always making sure it is properly wet). And some others prefer to use the arepa as an extra ingredient at the bottom of a bowl of soup.
Unlimited possibilities: Traditional fillings (How we found and selected our 8 arepas)
The arepa we’ve selected for our business is the stuffed arepa. Meaning no ingredient is too crazy to use as filling. As long as it tastes great, of course. That’s the disclaimer of the one rule-to-cook-them-all rule. This is the arepa whose flavour, texture, temperature, and scent vary greatly, turning each selection into an almost completely different dish from one another.
This too is also known as the most Venezuelan version of the arepa.
Now, how did we choose these eight fillings with so many options around? Well, it was hard to discard, but it wasn’t hard to select, so we just followed the trail of which traditional dishes Venezuelans were turning into traditional fillings, and then selected the ones which flavours were most distant from one another. We also added the variable of cold and hot fillings and kept the most spice-able ingredients. And voila! A lick-your-fingers-Menu was born.
So what do you do with the extra dough on the edge of the plate? Well, you just ignore it for a while. It will cool down (remember it came from the heart of a hot arepa). And while you eat your arepa and physics does its job snatching pieces of the filling into your plate, the piece of dough will wait patiently for you to practice a Caribbean version of the la scarpetta: you’ll pick it up, and you mop up your plate.
Because with the arepa nothing goes to waste.