What Are Arepas And What Do They Taste Like?

There are some foods that have an extensive tradition behind them. Arepas are one of those ancient fares, with a recorded history that goes back to the native tribes of Colombia and Venezuela, according to Adriana Lopez, owner of arepas restaurant Pica Pica. Even hundreds of years later, Arepas continue to be a staple in both countries. Before the economic and political problems which have ravaged Venezuela and disrupted the food supply as of late, Venezuelans were eating on average two arepas every day (via NPR). 

Perhaps the easiest way to think about arepas is like a South American sandwich. They're easy to make and are comprised of simple ingredients: cornmeal, salt, and water (via Pinch of Yum). Once you've made the outside, which looks a little bit like a thin cornbread biscuit, you can add whatever filling you desire. Carnitas (slow-cooked pork), black beans, and cheese are common options for these popular snacks (via Bon Appetit).

A taste between a tortilla and a tamale

While food trucks and restaurants which sell arepas are popping up in many locations across the country, they haven't yet gained the same popularity that other Latin American foods have. But perhaps the best way to think about them is to compare them to the more popular tamale. Both foods are cornmeal based, and whereas tamales are generally steamed, arepas are typically pan-fried — but the overall flavor profile is fairly similar (via Minimalist Baker). 

Another similar Latin American food that is comparable is the ubiquitous tortilla. Traditional corn tortillas are made out of the same ingredients but are much thinner (via The Kitchn). On the other hand, tamales are typically much thicker and have a bigger cornmeal-to-filling ratio. Whereas with tacos (made with tortillas) you'll get a stronger flavor of the filling, and with tamales, you might be overwhelmed with flavor from the cornmeal, with arepas, you might find yourself with a happy medium.