Sunday, November 20, 2005

Las arepas – ¿caraqueñas o maracuchas?

¡Qué ricas!

Last night I had a group of friends over ..... mostly Spanish teachers (we teachers need to party!!) and some other friends, from the US, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Italy, Canada (French), Belgium ... and probably a few more places I'm not remembering. I love bringing people together to celebrate all of our stories.

My two Venezuelan friends, Liz Sandra and Gilde, brought the ingredients to make arepas, a truly delicious side dish typical of Venezuela. Made with a base of corn meal, they can be rounded and white (al estilo caraqueño), or flatter and yellow, colored with achiote (al estilo maracucho)


Little did I know we were in for a chapter of the long-running but light-hearted feud between the caraqueños and the maracuchos! Gilde is from Caracas, and Liz is from Maracaibo.

Liz and Gilde both showed up with the main ingredient, a cornmeal flour called Harina Pan...

Harina Pan

...and their Tosty Arepas:

Tosty Arepas

La maracucha, Liz was also packing her achiote seeds to add color y sabor. The seeds are heated in oil until they release their color, then the oil is drained and added to the masa.

To make the masa for the arepas, you mix the Harina Pan with water and salt. Liz explained that there are heated discussions about the best way to do this – in some places you put the flour down first and then add the water; in others, you start with a bowl of water and add the Harina Pan into that. You mix and mix until you have a smooth masa.

La caraqueña, Gilde, kept her masa blanca, while Liz added the achiote-colored oil to give her masa a rich yellow glow.

Then to the preparation – two different cities, two different ways. Both started by breaking off a large chunk of masa and rolling it into a ball. But that's where the similarity ended. Liz flattened out each ball of dough and placed it on a hot iron griddle (my Mexican comal that I bought after my trip to Oaxaca). She toasted the disks on the griddle until they were browned, and then put them in the oven to finish cooking. The true test of whether she did it right? If they puffed up while in the oven. They did!! And they were delicious. (And by the way, she never used her Tosty Arepas!)

Arepas maracuchas

Gilde took her balls of dough and put them directly onto the Tosty Arepas. This is the coolest appliance! (I think it's going to be on my Christmas list ...) To add some more flavor, she took the pan drippings from the roast pork that had just come out of the oven and greased the Tosty Arepas with that. Close the lid of the Tosty Arepas, click it, let it cook through one cycle for soft arepas or two cycles for ones with a crispier outside, and they're done!

Arepas caraqueñas

There was no contest – there were two clear winners, both la arepa caraqueña and la arepa maracucha. Both were absolutely delicious, and were finished up so quickly that a second round of masa had to be made.

Now, the next morning, I'm wishing I had some for breakfast ..... they are often eaten for breakfast in Venezuela, and I can see why; I would eat them at every meal! .... Hmm, there's still some Harina Pan downstairs ...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Los Reggaetoneros -- Cuidado con lo que dicen

I got this AP release from my Yahoo noticias en español ... I could not agree more. I hope that someone transforms reggaeton with positive, beautiful and socially conscious lyrics, the same way Juan Luis Guerra did with bachata.

2 de noviembre de 2005, 01:56 PM

Diego Verdaguer a reggaetoneros: Cuidado con lo que dicen  

(AP) - NUEVA YORK (AP) _ "El reggaetón es una ola muy interesante y alegre, un ritmo muy contagioso, pero ... a veces sería mejor que no tuviera letra", opinó el miércoles el cantautor argentino Diego Verdaguer al iniciar su primera gira estadounidense con su esposa y compañera de éxitos, Amanda Miguel.

En entrevista con la AP horas antes de presentarse en el SOB's de Manhattan, Verdaguer recomendó a los intérpretes de reggaetón que tengan "cuidado con las letras, porque el público joven es el que va a ser adulto y va a tener posiciones de gran responsabilidad en el mundo".

Agregó que cuando uno disfruta de liderazgo como cantante del momento debe decir cosas positivas para el futuro de la sociedad, porque si no estaría haciendo mal uso de esa oportunidad.

La pareja se encuentra en Estados Unidos para promocionar el más reciente álbum de Miguel, "Piedra de afilar", así como una compilación de éxitos de ambos en vivo, "Siempre fuimos dos", de próximo lanzamiento.