This year’s annual Venezuelan food festival is just around the corner. If you’re like us – a lover of all things breaded and dipped in oil, then you may have already heard of, or even attended the the other empanada lover’s heaven. But for the rest of you – who may be newbies to Central American cuisine – we have some advice on how to make the most of your time at Feria Sabores so you avoid looking like a celiac trying to find gluten free croissants in the San Telmo Market. Here’s our five point guide.
1. Venezuelan empanadas are not the same as their Argentine counterparts
Don’t fret. This is still a safe space for empanada enthusiasts. Look for the the corn (not wheat) based thin crust samosa-looking objects, and rejoice in learning that unlike Argentine empanadas, these are fried, not baked. Oh yeah.
2. This food is filling
Select your samples with precaution, so as to avoid going home with a giant Venezuela-sized stomach ache. We suggest starting off with an empanada and some tajadas (fried plantains), diving deep into some caraotas (mix of black beans, white rice, cheese, and bacon) as your main entree, and winding down with besitos de coco (crispy coconut balls)…But also try the mandocas…because they are deep-fried cornmeal rings dipped in cheese and butter. Nevermind what we said earlier. Just bring bigger pants.
3. Celiac’s – don’t run away just yet!
Venezuelan cuisine is largely rooted in cornmeal, meat, and potatoes. Be advised that some dishes are usually made with wheat, such as cachitos, similar to Argentine medialunas, or croissants. While others, like arepas and Ñoquis, could go either way. If you’re worried, meat and rice is your safest bet. We recommend carne mechada, the savory, heavily sauced, Venezuelan cousin to meatloaf.
4. Also don’t forget the drinks
Ponche crema is a favorite to the Caribbean-influenced country. Ingredients vary, but this drink is based in a creamy liqueur, usually chased down with some rum, sugar, nutmeg, and sometimes even coffee. If you’re not a fan of your Uncle John’s Christmas eggnog, this might not be your drink of choice. As an alternative, Venezuelans also sip on chinotto, the bittersweet, less sugary Caribbean version of cola. If you like orange juice and carbonation, this might be the bubbly answer to your hot summer day.
5. Throw your paleo, gluten-free, vegan, diet out the window
This is necessary in order to embark on the flavorfully fried journey that is Feria Sabores. Try the beef-filled arepa, and the arepa de dulce. Double dip your tortillas in a little more guasacaca (avocado relish) than usual. Eat that second hallaquita girl, because everyone deserves to chow down on some corny, flaky Venezuelan tamales.
Get more info here. See you there!