I think every ex pat goes through waves of homesickness- and it can be weird the things we miss about home. When I lived in San Ramon, Costa Rica, I would often miss Colorado-style Mexican food. I remember one time finding jalapenos at an American-style grocery store, and making a spicy pork green chili. Not thinking about the fact that Costa Ricans typically do not eat much spicy food, I enthusiastically served it to my then-boyfriend now-husband. He was so polite as he ate it, complementing me on the flavor as tears ran down his face while he tried to finish eating what I served him. Last Sunday morning, my husband woke up missing home and craving Costa Rican Pancakes, which we call arepas, and he made them for us. I had forgotten how good they are!
First- let me quell what could potentially be a bit of confusion. Arepas is a Latin dish that is very popular in Colombia and Venezuela. In Colombia, the arepas are prepared with cornmeal, generally savory, and can have toppings such as cheese or meat. (A Colombian arepa is very similar to a Costa Rican chorreada). For more information on Colombian arepas, please check out this great article from My Colombian Recipes. The Venezuelan arepas are made with a white cornmeal flour called PAN (affiliate), and are usually puffier and filled with amazing meats, vegetables and cheese- similar to a Mexican torta. Here’s a great recipe from Venezuelan Cooking.
Now for the Costa Rican arepas- we eat arepas typically during coffee hour. Arepas are a flat, dense, homemade batter that is dropped onto a hot skillet rubbed with oil, and cooked through. A Costa Rican arepa is similar to an American-style pancake without the fluffiness. Arepas are traditionally drizzled with a sweet topping, such as honey, sweetened condensed milk, or dulce de leche. We will eat arepas at our house for breakfast, but they are traditionally eaten more during the afternoon coffee hour. Please note that the links included in this post are affiliate links.
Arepas are super easy to make and a definite crowd-pleaser- here is the recipe.
Yield- 10-12 medium sized arepas