Colombia: The Tradition of Arepas in the Afternoon

If one travels to Colombia, it is most likely that between 3 and 6 pm that one will be invited to eat “something.” Being served a combination of coffee or hot chocolate along with a wide variety of baked goods has become a ritual for many Colombian families during the time of the day when the sun sets.

Photo by Lozbot and used under a Creative Commons license

Photo by Lozbot and used under a Creative Commons license

In Reticente [es], the blog of Juan David Escobar, he writes about that tradition that has been passed down by many generations:

Mis abuelas nos enseñaron que a eso de las 3pm, se debe parar la vida para comer algo caliente con parva, o lo que te encuentres, pero comer “algo”.

My grandmothers taught us that around 3 pm, that one must stop life in order to each something hot with baked goods or whatever one can find, but eat “something.”

More often that not, this “something” is an arepa. On a cold afternoon, Escobar participated in the preparation of arepas of chócolo (soft corn), and which is something also discussed in other Colombian blogs. The Blog de Colombia [es] provides an explanation about the process to prepare the arepa:

La arepa es una de las comidas más típicas en Colombia. Para hacerlas, los ingredientes son muy básicos: harina de diferentes tipos de maíz, agua, aceite y sal. Luego está el relleno, que cada uno puede hacer de lo que quiera, pero la arepa pura es lo importante. Aunque todavía no se pongan de acuerdo sobre qué país es el originario, la arepa colombiana tiene su propia tradición y forma de elaboración.

The arepa is one of the most typical foods in Colombia. To make them, the ingredients are very basic: flour from different types of corn, water, oil, and salt. Next is the filling, and one can choose with what to fill it, but the pure arepa is the most important part. Even though that they still do not agree about which country [the arepa] comes from, the Colombian arepa has its own tradition and way to make it.

The arepa of chócolo is made after threshing the corn, as indicated by the blog Recetas de Cocina, Colombia Turística [es]:

Se desgranan los chócolos, y se muelen. Debe quedar una masa suave. Se arman las arepas y se ponen a asar sobre una hoja de plátano, luego se voltean sobre una hoja nueva, hasta que queden bien asados por ambos lados.

The chócolo is threshed, and then grinded. It should result in a soft dough. The arepas are formed into shape and it is placed on a banana leaf to broil, then it is turned on a new leaf, until it becomes well cooked on both sides.

The arepa of chócolo is accompanied with cheese [es]:

Si quiere puede hacer dos cosas con el queso: cortarlo en lajitas, cortar la arepa por el borde e introducir el queso en la mitad y asarlas de nuevo por un minuto o rallar el queso y mezclarlo, con la masa, antes de armarlas.

If one wants, two things can be done with the cheese: cut it into pieces, cut the arepa around the edges, place the cheese inside, and broil them once again for a minute or grate the cheese, mix it into the dough before forming the arepas.

Blogger Carlos Múnera of the blog Somos Iguales [es] affirms:

Qué cosa más rica es ese binomio culinario de la arepa de chócolo* con quesito y mejor cuando se forma aquel triángulo amoroso a la llegada de un espumoso chocolate en leche. Sí señores, ah fríos que nos ha quitado ese trinomio de sabor. Ah tardes que nos han acompañado paralelo a una buena visita parviada*. Cuán sencillos y humanos nos sentimos cuando comemos del fruto de la tierra cocido al calor del fuego.

How delicious is that culinary pairing, the arepa of chócolo with cheese and even better when it forms that love triangle with the arrival of the foamy chocolate in milk. Yes sir, this trio of taste has taken away the cold many times in the afternoons in which it has been part of a visit with baked goods. How simple and human we feel when we eat the fruit of the earth baked in the heat of the fire.
Photo by Juan David Escobar and used with permission.

Photo by Juan David Escobar and used with permission.

Finally, Escobar of the blog El Reticente [es] concludes his post:

Mientras los ordenes económicos y de seguridad se mueven y la ciudad crece y se moderniza, todavía por aquí tenemos las tradiciones más clásicas, a pesar de que de las abuelas ni los huesos quedan.

Meanwhile the economic and security forces move throughout and the city grows and modernizes, we still have the most classic of traditions, even though that not even the bones of the grandmothers remain.
Translation by Eduardo Ávila


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