Finally, Kat and I had the opportunity to relax together. Graham didn’t nap so he went to bed early and there were no planned events for new hires or other parties to go to. The night was looking good.
We had no energy to cook so I walked down the street to Casa de los Llanos, a better than average restaurant specializing in Venezuelan cuisine. 10 minutes and $10 later I had two Arepas Llaneras in a paper sack. I went around the corner to the local licoria and bought a $10 liter of the standard go-to rum — Santa Teresa, Gran Reserva. The night was looking really good.
When we lived in LA, where there’s no shortage of good Mexican joints, burritos were our takeout of choice. Then when we lived in Burien, where there’s no shortage of Vietnamese joints, bahn mi sandwiches and pho were our go-to takeout. Here in Caracas, our choices are the hot dog cart around the corner (which will get it’s own post later) or the ubiquitous arepa joint. In its most basic form, the arepa is a simple corn masa pancake. Usually though, it’s opened up and stuffed with whatever one likes: cheese, ham, scrambled eggs, avocado, steak, pork, chicken — you know, the type of things you’d find in a burrito. The Arepa Llanera is one of the more complicated options, sporting a fresh cheese that’s similar to string cheese, avocado, tomato, and steak.
I walked home quickly and plated the arepas. Then I poured a couple Caribes. (Most everyone knows that rum with Coke is called a Cuba Libre. But not till last weekend did I learn that rum with Sprite (Chinotto here) is called a Caribe.) We put Caddyshack in the DVD player and it all turned out; the food, the drink, the movie, the whole night — it was really good.
I always thought a cuba Libre was rum, coke and a splash of lime juice. If y’all are gonna be degenerate, get the recipe right! J/K
Rob, the Cuba Libres served in bars and restaurants here are terribly strong. The bartender will fill a tall glass with ice, pour in rum until the glass is nearly full, and top it off with a splash of coke and a slice of lime on top. Yikes!
I had a Columbian roommate in college and his mom always made arepas for us, though I had no clue how to spell it. Simply incredible, and she always had a batch going whenever there were people around.
I’d be curious to find out how the food selection is. When we were in Costa Rica, the quality of groceries at the stores was on par with what they’d carry at Aldi, and things like “organic” certainly were not an option. The few markets we were able to look through seemed to have basic options as far as fresh produce. This was more in the rural areas as opposed to San Jose, but I’m curious if it has been a big change or not so much.
There’s actually somewhat of a rivalry between Colombia and Venezuela when it comes to arepas. There are slight differences in the recipes but much of it comes down to who you think has the best corn flour. Our nanny is Colombian and when I tried to rile her up about it, she didn’t pay much mind. She’s pretty easy going like that…And she makes wonderful Venezuelan arepas.
I’ll work on another post to give more insight into the food selections at grocery stores, as well as the different types of farmer’s markets.
We have actually found some organic products here, as well as gluten free items, whole grain stuff, and other alternative/health foodie things (brown rice, almond milk, etc.) — but they aren’t nearly as widely available here as they are at home. Stay tuned for Michael’s post about the markets, though. The produce here has been great so far!
We’ve read all the entries we could find and are hungry for more. Living near a possible rival to Hugo Chavez sounds dicey. We didn’t find anything about your employment, maybe fuel for a future blog entry? We’re in awe of your adventurousness. (Is that a word?)
I believe his family owns the building to our right, and according to colleagues he used to be seen regularly entering and leaving the building with his entourage of bodyguards. But he doesn’t live there and I haven’t seen him once since we moved in.
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