Overview of Venezuelan Cuisine History
Venezuelan cuisine contains some African, Indigenous and the European influence mainly of Spain and Italy. The Venezuelan cuisine combines meat with vegetables, with fruits being a flavorsome cuisine along with olive oils and garlic a main staple of their European ancestors whom colonized the country. The most typically seasonings used in the Venezuelan cuisine are: the sweet pepper, garlic, onions or coriander. The corn or the sweet corn and wheat are used in preparing pancakes. The Venezuelan “Arepas” is a substitute of bread and is usually served at breakfast. The “Arepas” are fried pancakes or baked containing different fillings or just plain. Pasta, rice and bread are more of a staple in most venezuelan dishes. Seafood dishes are very popular in the Venezuelan cuisine. Red snapper, trout and shellfish are cooked in delicious fish dishes. Beef and Chicken meats are part of the Venezuelan daily menu. The Pork meat is prepared and eaten mostly at Christmas time. Locally grown fruits such as avocado, bananas, mango, coconut, pineapple or guava are also used as ingredients for some dishes.
The plantains dishes are typically for a Venezuelan lunch or dinner, cooked with rice or potatoes. Vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, Eggplant, cucumbers, white beans or peas are prepared in most Venezuelan vegetarian dishes but not only. Lunch is the main meal in Venezuela and it is served between 12 and 2 pm. The Venezuelan dinner is less consistent than the lunch, being a light supper that is usually served after 8pm. The “Arepas” is the traditional Venezuelan bread. The “Arepas” are baked or fried pancakes served usually at breakfast. The Venezuelan bread is cooked either with a filling or plain. In the past, “Arepas” was made of dried corn kernels which were kept in water with lime juice before cooking. “Arepas” can be served as a snack or as an appetizer also. The Columbian cuisine has a dish similar with the “Arepas”, using the same main ingredients. The difference is that the Columbian “Arepas” are thinner and sweeter. “Cachapas” (corn pancakes), “Tequenos” (cheese-filled pastries) and “Tostones” (fried plantain chips) are typically Venezuelan dishes. “Guasacaca”, a spicy avocado sauce is also representative for the Venezuelan cuisine.
Cuisines of Venezuela
The round maize loaf is mostly made of corn. The “Pavillion” is known as a national dish and is made of black beans, rice, banana slices and meat. The “Hallaca” is basically a wrap with meat, olives, capers, hot sauce and corn cooked in banana leaves. The “Caracas Pabellon” is also a famous Venezuelan traditional dish. The main ingredients for this dish are: black beans, white rice and stuffed meat. This dish changes its name into “Pabellon con Baranda” if it has also sliced fried plantains. “Hallaca” is the traditional Venezuelan dish for the Christmas dinner and its ingredients varies from region to region. For example, the Caracas “Hallaca” is very rich in ingredients and the Ands “Hallaca” contains seedless tomatoes. Beef, Pork or Chicken meat is the main ingredient for the “Hallaca”. This dish is completely wrapped in plantain leaves. The “Cachapa” is the Venezuelan omelet made of sweet corn, milk, salt and Sugar. In different regions of Venezuela, the “Cachapa” is called “Cachapa de hoja” and is mostly made of the same main ingredients. The only thing that changes is that the omelet is wrapped in corn leaves and boiled latter. The Venezuelan “Mondongo” was inspired by the Spanish “Callos or Tripas”. In the center region of Venezuela, the “Mondongo” is made of cow’s feet or tripe. In the eastern region of Venezuela, this dish is made of tripe, Offal and small meat pieces. The “Emapandas” are fried “Bollos” made of cornmeal and stuffed with cheese or fish
Preparation Methods for Venezuelan Cooking
There are no specific preparation methods in the Venezuelan cuisine; it’s just that the recipes need to be closely followed. For example, for the famous Venezuelan corn pancakes, named the “Cachapas”, the main ingredients are eggs, Sugar, milk, salt and canned corn or tender corn kernels. All the ingredients have to be combined in a blender and mixed together until they become thick. The obtained mix has to be shaped into pancakes. Next step is to let them cook on both sides for about one minute. The “Cachapas” are usually served hot with feta cheese. The preparation method for “Arroz con Leche” is also simple. For an “Arroz con Leche”, the main ingredients are: rice, water, milk, Sugar, salt, lemon peel, cinnamon powder and sticks. The rice has to be washed in cold water and after that boiled for about ten minutes. Next step is adding the milk, the cinnamon and the lemon peel. The rice has to boil for another ten minutes on moderate heat, the Sugar and salt has to be added. After boiling the rice for another 15 minutes, the cinnamon powder is being added. The “Arroz con Lecho” is served chilled.
Special Equipment for Venezuelan Cooking
The Venezuelan traditional cuisine doesn’t need sophisticated special equipment for cooking. Like the other international cuisines, the Venezuelan one needs the basic equipment set like soup ladles, food pans, or mugs, ovens, grills, etc. The Venezuelan Barbecued Pork is a delicious meat dish. The main ingredients are: boneless Pork butt, parsley springs, garlic, Onion, red or green pepper, white vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. The meat has to be cut in small cubes using a sharp knife; the parsley has to be chopped and put into a bowl. Next step is to chop the garlic and to mix it with the bell pepper and the Onion. All these ingredients have to be added into the parsley bowl and mixed together. Next step is adding this mix over the meat. The ingredients have to be sealed and refrigerated for about five hours or better, overnight. The grill has to be set so that there will be no direct heat for the steak. The refrigerated ingredients have to be drained and the meat placed on the grill. Each side should be cooked for about a half an hour and basted with marinade. Finally the Pork is served with a heated sauce made of the marinade.
Venezuelan Food Traditions and Festivals
Like in all other cuisines and cultures, there are several food festivals in Venezuela also. Usually these food festivals last for about three-four days and people from all Venezuelan regions are gathering to celebrate the Venezuelan food traditions and the culture. During these festivals important food producers are taking part, promoting their products. Famous chefs are performing live cooking and people are invited to taste the daintiness and even to buy from home. Live vocal bands are performing and people are having a great time. In Venezuela there are even international food festivals over the year. During these international food festivals the Venezuelans are zealously presenting their traditional dishes to the other competitors. Venezuelan dishes like “Cachapa”, the Venezuelan bread, “Arepas” or the roast Chicken named “Polo Assado” are highly appreciated by the foreigners and can be found in international restaurants or in Venezuelan restaurants located in different countries. During these Venezuelan food festivals there are cooking tournaments with different prizes or short term Venezuelan cooking courses. Most of these Venezuelan food festivals are taking place in the capital, Caracas because this city is known to be the culinary capital of Latin America.
People in Venezuelan Food
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The Venezuelan chefs are very talented and their work is appreciated even in foreign countries too. Venezuelan food can be characterized by its simplicity and by the amazing mix of different flavors. There are Venezuelan chefs who are writing cook books in which they share their knowledge in matter of food and recipes. Some famous Venezuelan chefs have even their TV shows or web pages. Lately, the Hispanic gastronomy developed and influenced some American regions. Some researches are showing that more American people are consuming the Venezuelan hot sauce “Salsa” instead of the ketchup. The Venezuelan chefs are promoting a healthier food and new tastes and flavors. At the Culinary Institute of America, many Venezuelan experienced chefs are teaching cooking courses. Tourists visiting Venezuela never leave the beautiful country without buying a Venezuelan cook book or asking around for a traditional dish that they enjoyed most. Venezuelan restaurants can be found worldwide, although most of them are located in the U.S.A. Venezuelan famous chefs are always invited to take part at various international food festivals and their work is highly appreciated by people from all over the world.