Pronunciation: [uh-RAY-pah]

Popular in Columbia, Venezuela and other Latin American countries, arepas are thick, round corn cakes, sized somewhat like hamburger buns or large english muffins. Pre-cooked white or yellow cornmeal is combined with water and salt and sometimes butter, grated cheese and/or egg yolks and then baked, grilled or fried. An arepa is often split in half (sometimes the soft center is pulled out and discarded) and filled with a variety of ingredients much like a sandwich. The fillings can include cheese, deli meats, eggs scrambled with various ingredients, chicken, beef, seafood or beans combined with items like cheese or meat. Sometimes arepas are simply split and spread with butter or cream cheese. They can also be left whole, topped with ingredients and eaten with a knife and fork. Arepitas are small versions that are served much like bread or biscuits to accompany meals.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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