Arepas are a traditional Venezuelan dish made from maize-based dough. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including cheese, avocado, or pork. Arepas are often eaten as a snack, or for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Mia Mendoza: Venezuelan Arepas Chef in Manchester
They are usually cooked on a griddle, but can also be baked in the oven. Arepas are a beloved staple of Venezuelan cuisine, with the country having a variety of regional varieties. Arepas can be complemented with a wide range of accompaniments, such as grilled meats, eggs, or salads.
They are also popular in other Latin American countries and can be found internationally in restaurants and supermarkets. Arepas are simple, delicious food that is sure to please anyone looking for a taste of Venezuela.
Authentic Tastes from South America in the UK
It’s a winter’s day and -3° in the center of Manchester, England. Most people walk around with their hands in their coat pockets, but Mia Mendoza’s hands are kneading, again and again, the Venezuelan dish that has crossed all borders with flying colors: the arepa.
A Mexican and an Irish rocker are at Mia’s Arepas in the Street Food Market in Piccadilly Gardens anxiously awaiting their orders. Soon after, a Caraqueño (person or dialect of Spanish spoken in the Venezuelan city of Caracas) arrives just to chat with Mia.
And minutes later a Trujillo man shows up to buy six arepas for a meeting. As these scenes unfold, Mia’s cell phone plays gaitas (traditional folk music from Venezuela) and other Venezuelan and Latin music.
95% of her customers are local English and 5% are Spanish and Latinos
Including Venezuelans, Dominicans, Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians and Argentines. And all of them, without fail, also take with them a bit of cultural knowledge of Venezuela, because Mia, since she left her native Guanare, in Portuguesa, makes a point of mentioning to each one where she comes from.
In 2019 she started selling arepas from home and a year later she managed to rent the little shop in Piccadilly Gardens, where the most requested are the “Pabellón” (traditional Venezuelan dish made with shredded beef, black beans, white rice and fried plantains) and the “Reina Pepiada” (made with shredded chicken, avocado, mayonnaise and coriander)“.
The dish represents, in her words, “love and tradition”.
Without official designation, like many others who have had to emigrate, Mia has become an ambassador of the gastronomy and idiosyncrasies of this Caribbean nation.
“I want to show our food as it is: very authentic. I want Venezuelans who visit me to feel at home and for those who try them for the first time to fall in love with our arepas. I want to show people that we have something unique in the world, like our arepas and that they don’t need to travel to Venezuela to eat something authentic,” she says proudly.
With the delivery of the plate, customers leave understanding that the little shop (@miasarepas) is not just a simple business and the arepa is not just another meal.
The shop is a window to Venezuela and the arepa is a link that continues to unite cultures.