In today’s online free Spanish lesson, we will focus on how to speak Colombian or Latin American Spanish. A customer sent me the following email on this topic:
“Patrick, yo soy americano y me gusta cocinar los platos latinos. Please explain what’s an ‘arepa’?”
In one of the emails that you sent this week you said that a customer wrote you and said:
‘I tried to make arepas, but did not get themto cook through properly. Plus, I’m not sure we have the proper ‘harina’ here. I used the one Mexicans use for tamales and tortillas.'”
I am glad that he asked that question. Arepa is a traditional national food of Colombia. I call them Colombian tortillas. Arepas were originally a food that the indigenous people of Colombia
and Venezuela ate. By the way, “harina” means flour.
When I was in New York City last summer listening to Latino radio a Colombian woman called in who said that she was originally from Cartagena, Colombia, and the radio personality joked around with her by asking “Comes mucha arepa?”
But the Paisas (people of Medellín, Colombia) are really the Colombians with the reputation for eating arepas. Paisas eat them for “el desayuno” with their “huevos” (eggs), “chorizos” (sausages) and hot chocolate but they will also eat them for “el almuerzo” (lunch) and “la comida” (dinner). Notice that in Colombia they don’t call dinner “la cena.” They call dinner “la comida.”
Even when I order fast food in Medellín from a “restaurante” with “servicio a domicilio” (home delivery service). My “pollo apanado” (batter-fried chicken) will arrive with a couple of arepas included.
In fact, I have a couple of amigas in Medellín who when asked “Are you Paisa?” The invariably respond “pura arepa” (pure arepa).
But as much as Paisas like arepas, not too many people in Medellín prepare them from scratch. They buy them from the supermarket already prepared.
It is funny that an American wrote me and asked “what’s an arepa?” because all of my American friends in Medellín always tell me that they don’t like arepas. They all say that arepas “have no taste.”
I tell them that when I first tried arepas I didn’t like them but I enjoy them now. What changed my opinion? I discovered that you have to add your own “sabor” (flavor) like the Paisas do.
So just like the Paisas, I add a toping of “mantequilla” (butter), queso (cheese) or “hogao” (a Colombian sauce consisting of onions, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper that are sauteed during the cooking process).