Guest post by Karadekoolaid
Where should I begin? I live in one of the most privileged countries in the world. Venezuela. Plains, mountains, rain forest, jungle, deserts, 1000 kms of beach, right on the Caribbean and with soil so lush you can just toss a few seeds into the garden and they’ll grow. Yet sadly, we depend on the accursed black gold; petrol. The land is woefully underexploited.
So, if you were to spend a day in a typical Venezuelan household , what would you be eating? You might start the day with an arepa; a cornmeal bun, split in two, and stuffed with fresh white cheese, or ham and cheese, or fried, pulled beef, or, if you were lucky, a Reina Pepiada – spiced chicken and avocado. You’d either drink coffee (and that is another blog altogether!) or fresh fruit juice, known as a “batido”. Orange, pawpaw, mango, guava, soursop, mango, pineapple… indeed, any of the mind-boggling array of tropical fruits is feasible. Water, sugar, fruit, ice = batido. Lunch? Let’s keep it strictly local and go for the national dish, “pabellón criollo”. Spiced, pulled skirt of beef, served with fried plantains, black beans and rice. Rice with everything here. I think it was here where I first ate fish with rice. For some reason it felt rather odd, but when you think about it, we’re in a world minority because rice is everywhere!
What would you eat for dinner? Well after that lot, you might not want to eat anything at all! In fact, the heat tends to inhibit the appetite. However, soup always fits the bill, so you might like to enjoy a creamed veg soup, or a plate of pasta, or a salad – or even a sandwich! Or perhaps a “cachapa” – a pancake made with freshly ground corn and filled with fresh white, farmer’s cheese. Venezuelans are GREAT carnivores. Some people eat little more than meat and rice; others don’t consider having eaten a meal unless it’s got meat in it! The BBQ (“Parrilla”) is a National Institution. But then that’s the subject for another day!