The arepa is a common and highly popular dish from Venezuela and Colombia that is still something of a hidden gem in Scotland!
Just like other countries in the Americas, the use of corn has been of vital importance for its gastronomy and identity, and the arepa is a round-shaped semi-flattened patty made with corn flour, generally griddled or fried, and can be eaten as a main dish – by itself or with a filling.
The word “arepa” is believed to come from indigenous language, and some researchers believe it comes from the word “erepa”, which is the name that the Cumanagoto people (Caribbean indigenous people from the north east of Venezuela) had for corn. Another theory is that it comes from the word “aripo”, a type of slightly curved ceramic griddle that some indigenous people used to cook the corn dough.
“After the 19th century, in Venezuela and Colombia, every region and family started developing their own formulae for the perfect arepa…”
It is worth noting that it wasn’t just the Cumanagoto people consumed arepas before the Spanish arrival. The Tairona people were a pre-Columbian civilisation who lived in what is now Colombia, whose diet was also based on corn – which meant arepas were a staple. The Caribbean Pantagoras and Aburraes, who also lived in Colombia, were also known to eat them.
After the discovery of America, when Christopher Columbus arrived in San Salvador (now, The Bahamas), the first “American” land he stepped on, the native people offered him arepas made with cassava and corn. Furthermore, Fray Pedro Simón and Bernabé Cobo described in their works how the indigenous people made “patties as thick as a finger, which they call arepas”.
After the 19th century, in Venezuela and Colombia, every region and family started developing their own formulae for the perfect arepa, becoming a staple for Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine and culture – and at Latinway we are proud to bring arepas to Aberdeen for your gastronomic pleasure.