Venezuela is a country rich in history and food culture. And even though current political times are straining the people who call the coastal Latin American country their home, the one thing those people always have to rely on is great company and incredible food.
In Venezuela, food is all about color and flavor. Its dishes are tropical, whimsical, fun, and come heavy with European influences from Spain and Italy. The most important ingredients are the ones grown and farmed locally – namely coconut, banana, seafood, and corn. These five dishes are central to the identity of the Venezuelan people, and will continue to be long after these tough times transition to prosperous ones once again.
Here are 5 can’t miss Venezuelan dishes for foodies.
1 | Asado Negro
Asado is a blanket term which in America could translate best to “barbecue.” It is a term used widely in Latin America and always means something a bit different depending on which Spanish speaking country you hear it in.
Asado Negro, which literally translates to ‘black barbecue,’ takes on a bit of its own meaning in Venezuela. It consists of a perfect eye of round roast cooked in a wine sauce concentrated with colorful flavors and spices. Each Venezuelan family cooks their Asado Negro with their own special blend of spices.
2 | Sopa de tapioca y zanahorias
Latin American soups and stews are among the best the culinary world has to offer, and Sopa de tapioca y zanahorias is no different. It is a tapioka soup that is traditionally infused with boiled and processed carrots to give it its distinctive orange color. The soup is cooked with chicken broth and any number of vegetable such as zucchini, onion, or locally available squash.
It’s a soup that can be served either hot or cold, and represents the boldness in texture, flavor, and color that Venezuelan cuisine is famous for.
3 | Arepas Rellenas de Pollo
If you’ve ever spent time in Latin America, chances are you’ve run into more than a few arepas in your time there. They are the street food of the masses, and fill markets and neighborhoods with the sweet smell of slow-cooked meat and fried, doughy bread. Arepas rellenas de pollo represent the most popular Venezuelan arepa, and should probably be the first thing you plan to eat should you go there.
These arepas are made from chicken that has been slow-roasted or boiled, shredded, then cooked in a peppery hot sauce before stuffing the mixture inside a fluffy, fried tortilla. Arepas are usually served with avocado for garnish and a bit of extra color and texture.
4 | Pastel de Chucho
Pastel de chucho made its way to Venezuela via the Caribbean islands of Margarita and Coche. It is a lasagna-like dish that layers potatoes or plantains with fish stew, cheese, and annatto in a casserole dish. The mixture is baked, cooled, and served with a side of fried plantains and rice. And while it has its origins off the shore of Venezuela, the coastal community has made it a part of their culture as well. It is a dish that comes with a certain grandeur and over-the-topness that the Venezuelan people are known for.
5 | Empanadas de Plátano y Queso
Everybody knows an empanada when they see one. These tiny morsels of fried or baked meat-filled goodness are a staple in most Latin American countries, making sure not to leave out Venezuela as one of their most prominent displays of tastiness. But, for those that don’t know, empanadas are small meat and cheese-filled tortillas that are folded over, crimped, and fried until golden brown.
Empanadas de plantains maduro y queso actually use plantains as part of the flour mixture of the tortillas. They give the empanadas a distinct sweetness, which acts well to counteract the gooey saltiness of the cheese that is stuffed inside. Yum.