Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Part I: Colombian Arepas & a Giveaway

For the last couple of days I have been researching a touchy subject: Are Brazilians Hispanic, Latino or both? After much debate and research, my answer has been narrowed down to: Brazilians are Latino, but not Hispanic. The deciding factor was that, technically, the term Hispanic is used to describe someone or something relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries. Brazilians are Lusophones, in other words “Portuguese-speaking”. This discovery kind of bummed me out. Why, you ask? Well, today just so happens to be the first day of a month-long (September 15th – October 15th) celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. So, does this mean I don’t get to celebrate with my fellow Latina sisters, just because Brazil is the only non-Spanish speaking country in Latin America? Absolutely not!
I may not come from a Spanish-speaking country but, I feel like I need to celebrate this month. Apart from the language factor, I believe that all Latin American countries have a great deal in common. One specific common factor we all share is food. Not only do some of our foods have a trace of similarity, but our food culture is very unique. Everything happens around food!
So, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month I invite you to learn a little bit more about  a couple of my Latin neighboring countries that are certified“Hispanic”! From now until October 13th, I will be hosting a three-part series featuring a Hispanic recipe from a cookbook, which I will then be giving away! So, let’s get right to it. The first country we will be exploring is, Colombia! 
Colombia, while being one of Brazil’s neighbors, was pretty foreign to me. When it came to Colombian cuisine, I had no idea what a typical dish was. So, on a quest to find more information, I came across Secrets of Colombian Cooking. This cookbook had lots of great reviews, so I decided to buy it and further explore the cuisine of Colombia – boy am I glad I did! This book, by Patricia McCausland, is full of knowledge. The recipes are detailed, ingredients described thoroughly, and stories of Colombian cuisine are told.


After much debate on what recipe I would share with y’all today, I decided to make arepas de queso.  Patricia described these as little breakfast snacks made of cornmeal, butter and cheese. But, what got me hooked into this one was her suggestion of serving it as hors d’oeuvres with sour cream and caviar! Ummm, yes please!
Arepas are to Colombians what pao de queijo are to us in Brazil. Enjoyed as breakfast or as a snack, simple to make and found at just about every corner kitanda. Patricia’s recipe for arepa de queso, is a more modern, less labor-intensive version that she describes as being popular in homes of Colombian cities. You will find the recipe from Secret of Colombian Cooking for arepas de queso bellow.
Now, I’ve got some fabulous news for you! I contacted Patricia, the author of this wonderful book, and was able to have a quick Q&A with her! She graciously agreed to answer some questions about herself and Colombian cuisine:
FS: Tell us a little bit about yourself - what is your background and when did you find an interest in food?
Patricia: I have been interested in cooking since a very young age, as my mother had a pastry shop in our house. I started working after schools and weekends at the age of 13.

FS: In Brazil, feijoada is dubbed the "national dish". Does Colombia have a national dish?
Patricia: Our national food would be sancocho, even though it is prepared slightly differently in different parts of the country. Colombia, like Brazil, is made up of the mixture of Black, European and Native communities and therefore we have a bit of each in our traditional foods. Sancocho is a soup served with many kinds of meat, poultry and seafood, all together or separately depending on the area it is made. It is commonly cooked with plantains, roots and tubers, luke, yucca, name, arracacha, and potatoes.

FS: Can you describe Colombian cuisine and share with us the reason you chose to right a book about it?
Patricia: I chose to write book about Colombian food after I reached the age of 40 and was transferred from Colombia to Panama with my husband. I decided I wanted to write after working more than 20 years in the bakery business. Our food is as diverse as our territory and so, I wanted to leave a heritage to my girls, now leaving their country as young children.

FS: I know with Brazilian cooking, there are some ingredients that are hard to find locally in the States. Is this the same with Colombian cuisine? How can the average home cook get around that?
Patricia: In the States there are many Latino food markets around large cities, and for smaller ones the Internet is very valuable. Food stores that carry natural and organic foods also carry many Latin ingredients and fresh produce.

To learn more about Patricia and to see her in action in the kitchen subscride to her YouTube,

And the post keeps getting better and better… I am giving away a copy of Patricia’s book, Secret of Colombian Cooking, to one of my lucky readers!
How to enter:
-Must be a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar.)
-Leave me a comment answering any of the following:Have you’ve ever had Colombian food, if yes what did you have and how was it? If not, would you like to? What other Hispanic cuisine are you curious to learn more about? How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?
*Make sure your comment links back to an email address or provide me with your email so I can contact you if you win!

+1 Point:

Like Food Samba on Facebook. Leave me a separate comment saying you did this.

+1 point:

Follow Food Samba on Twitter, RT the following and leave me a separate comment saying you did this:

“Win a copy of Secrets of Colombian Cooking via @foodsamba, as part of a month-long series celebrating #HispanicHeritageMonth : http://bit.ly/pjnE9E ”

*Giveaway closes Wednesday, September 28th at noon PST. I will be choosing a winner at random, through random.org. The winner will be contacted through email.

Arepas de Queso
From Secrets of Colombian Cooking

1/3 cup precooked white cormeal
1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp butter, soft
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pound grated white farmer's cheese
Oil or butter for cooking

Place the cornmeal, water, butter and salt in a bowl; mix with your hands for about 30 seconds until it has taken the consistency of a paste. Let it rest 5 minutes. Knead with your hands about 1 more miute until a ball of dough forms.

Make an indentation in the ball with your hand, add the cheese and kneadd 1 minute more. Divide and form into 4 small balls.

Place the balls between 2 sheets of plastic and with a havy pan or pot cover flatten to the thickness you desire, from 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

Melt 1/4 tsp of butter in a pan  and set over medium heat. Place the arepas in the pan, and cook about 2 minutes on each side until they have a golden color.


Lazaro Cooks said...

Fantastic dish. Plated exquisitely. Arepa to the next level.

Job well done.


Anonymous said...

Looks great! I've never had arepas with caviar - very fancy. I'd love to win this book and explore Colombian cooking.sydperk@google.com

Emme @Food Samba said...

Thank you! glad you guys like it fancied up! xoxo, Emme

Angela FRS said...

I love arepas! These look fantastic. I like to cook Brazilian dishes using a cookbook that was a gift from a Brazilian friend. Would love to win this.

Valentina Vitols said...

Love that you're showcasing Colombian food in your site, Emme! Would LOVE to have this book. Colombian and Venezuelan cuisines have a lot in common, so this is the kind of food that still taste like home to me.

Arepas! So funny that they are pretty much the same thing in my country and Colombia but prepared, plated and served slightly different. Love that "common element" in there.

Hope you're doing well!


Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ said...

Yes! HHM is here! Looking forward to all the food we'll be seeing around the sphere! I love me some arepas. Who's counting calories and carbs... I haven't had a good one in a long time, but I'll never forget the 1st time I had one: I was 6 or so... from a Venezuelan friend. At such an early age, they left me in awe. I looooooved them. I still not have forgotten that taste! Que rico.

Imma try this recipe against mine and see the difference!

The Duo Dishes said...

There are so many debates about certain cultural divides, but as you said, the similarities usually outweigh the differences. What a delicious way to start the celebration. We haven't done Colombian food on our blog, but maybe we should. Arepas para todo el mundo!

Emme @Food Samba said...

@Valentina, it was great learning more about the cuisine of Colombia. It was the first time making/eating arepas! I hear they are also similar to Salvadorean pupusas! I would love to learn more about Venezuelan cuisine too!
@Bren, it was delcious and super simple!
@Chrystal, all these pc terms and debates give me a headache. And, I owuld love to see some Colombian food on Duo Dishes....perhaps something from Patricia's book?!
Good Luck to all!

Sanura // MyLifeRunsOnFood.com said...

I recently had arepas for the first time, and they were so light and airy. I'm looking forward to learning more about food from Columbia.

Magic of Spice said...

Beautiful dish and love the idea of an appetizer :)
Sorry I missed your giveaway but loved the interview, sounds like a fantastic cookbook!