|A Comfort Food for Troubling Times:
Arepas con Perico
wish to come and stay in the United States to obtain a tourist visa and be
allowed to visit. Well, that is not the case!
My family has been denied visas more than once, one of my sisters was
turned around from the Miami airport and sent back to Venezuela, being
accused by the immigration officer to have come here and worked "illegally"
in the past; even though she had never done so and only had been here
visiting whenever I could afford to bring her. This past summer my mom was
denied her permission to travel to spend a few weeks with my kids. When
someone from my family in Venezuela can overcome all the obstacles that
prevent them from spending time with my family in Wisconsin, I get
overjoyed and excited. I treasure every single second of our time together,
knowing that living miles apart from each other, the next time we'll get to
spend time together is always an uncertainty.
My dad had not seen my kids since they were babies, having him here and
for them to get to know him felt special. You'd think that I might have spent
time preparing some elaborate meals, but my dad is a very simple man. All
he cared about was to be here with us. I offered to cook anything he wanted,
understanding the food scarcity they've gone through back in Venezuela. He
didn't even give it a second thought and right away said we should just
make arepas con Perico.
Perico is a mixture of scrambled eggs with a sofrito, simply described:
Venezuelan comfort food at its best! Preparing and eating this humble staple
food gave us a sense of normality, as if this is not a special occasion, but
instead a completely normal weekend. If you make this recipe, I hope you get
to enjoy eating it with your family as well.
Ingredients for Arepas:
2 cups precooked corn flour - Preferably Harina P.A.N.
2 1/2 cups water
A splash of cooking oil
Salt to taste
In a medium bowl, add water, a splash of oil, and season with salt. Add corn
flour gradually while stirring with your fingers. Yes, the best method here is
by using your hands. You'll notice the corn flour absorbs the water quickly.
Work with your hand to form a dough that is soft and pliable, making sure
there are no lumps. Grab enough dough to make a ball of the size of a golf
ball, start flattening the ball using the palm of your hands. Place the disk on
one hand and use your other palm to shape the edges in a circular motion.
Wet your hands while shaping to get rid of any cracks on the disk. Place on a
flat surface covered with plastic wrap.
To cook using a flat iron, put it on a high heat stovetop. When it is hot, add
a splash of cooking oil, using a paper towel to disperse the oil to cover the
entire surface. It should smoke, that's ok. Place the arepas carefully in the
hot iron, leaving space between the disks. Turn the heat down to medium and
cook until arepas come off easily, flip to the other side using a spatula. Cook
until both sides are crunchy and have dark spots. A good way to know if
arepas are cooked inside is by sound. Yeap! Slap the top a couple of times
with your fingers, if it sounds hollow, they are ready; if there is no hollow
sound, they may need a bit more cooking.
Ingredients for Perico:
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tomato, cut in small dices
1 medium onion, cut in small dices
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt to taste
In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add diced tomato,
onion, and garlic. Cook stirring for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid from
the tomatoes has evaporated. In the meantime, beat the eggs with a whisk
until well incorporated. Add eggs to the sofrito in the pan, using a wooden
spoon stir to combine eggs and sofrito well. Season with salt and taste.
Cook stirring occasionally until the eggs are cooked through. Serve as a
filling for arepas. Enjoy!
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It's been a while since I posted an
arepa recipe in this column. Early this
month, I received a very nice surprise
visit from my dad. It's crazy to think
that after living here for almost two
decades, my dad had never been able
to visit. As an immigrant in this
country, it pains me to see what's
happening in our borders and how
much families suffer from being
separated from their loved ones.
Aside from the immigration laws and
all the political bullshit surrounding the
livelihood of so many immigrants in
this country, you would think that it's
easier for family members that do not