If you are looking for a light breakfast, a typical Venezuelan breakfast may not be the best choice for you. If however you are looking for a hearty start to your day (and perhaps a great meal for soaking up the previous night’s festivities) you will have all of your needs, wants and desires met by a typical Venezuelan breakfast.
A Brief History of Venezuelan Cuisine
Before we dig into the main course we should temper ourselves with a bit of background on the nation’s culinary influences.
Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the conquistadores from Spain, Venezuela was inhabited by an indigenous people closely related to the South American Indians (Incas, Mayas). This was the first amalgamation of cuisines that the nation saw.
When the Spaniards arrived, they brought with them staple Spanish foods that were integrated into native entrees.
As time went on and due to the proximity of the nation to the Caribbean, more exotic spices and flavors were added to the palette. Today, Venezuelan cuisine has tapped ethnic roots from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean to become one of the most unique and delectable types of cuisine on the world.
You cannot mention a typical Venezuelan breakfast without talking about Venezuelan Arepa. Arepa is not only one of the most prominent and famous Venezuelan foods, but is commonplace in typical Venezuelan breakfast.
The arepa uses possibly the most abundant foodstuff in South America: corn. It is made of corn and is essentially a pancake stuffed with all kinds of mouth-watering ingredients. However, arepa was not always stuffed. In its humble beginning, Arepa use to be a basic bread that was meant to simply accompany main dishes.
Today however, it is stuffed, or filled if you will (think of a pita bread only thicker and made of corn) cheese, butter, chorizo, pretty much any kind of meat you can think of, avocados and eggs.
Arepas can be grilled or fried and they are typically used in place of bread. Now you see what we meant when we mentioned a hearty breakfast.
Typical Foods in Venezuela
Another dish that you will likely see in a typical Venezuelan breakfast is something called Cachapa. In a nutshell, a Cachapa is a thick pancake that is folded over with some cheese in the crease. Of course, since we are talking about a South American country, corn is used as the main component of this fat pancake.
Mandoca is a sweet little treat for Venezuelan breakfasts as well. You can consider it the Venezuelan incarnation of a donut but it is made of, you guessed it, cornmeal. Like the donuts we know here in the states, Mandoca is deep fried, seasoned with plenty of sugar and served topped with bananas or plantains.
Perico is another name that you will hear when sitting down to Venezuelan breakfast. It is a scrambled egg dish that features onions and tomatoes. You will see Perico commonly inside of your arepa but sometimes unbound by the cornmeal bread as well.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention in this Latino corner of cyberspace the existence of Hallaca in Venezuelan cuisine.
The Hallaca is an extremely important dish in Venezuela because it is the pride of every family. Arguments are not uncommonly roused as to who’s family makes the best Hallaca.
Hallaca is made during the holiday season and is a family affair. Production lines of sorts are formed by family members to stuff cornmeal (the same used for arepas) with beef, olives, raisins and other ingredients and then to wrap the whole deal in a banana leaf. To find out even more about Venezuelan culture and cuisine, check out the Legend of El Silbón.