In Venezuela, gastronomy tends to be highly regional, which is much the case throughout South America. Many of the dishes in the country are derived from French, Italian, and Spanish recipes, but have varied over the years to become uniquely Venezuelan. Fresh fish and shellfish make up many coastal recipes. Tubers such as the potatoes and yucca are quite common in the highlands. Corn, rice and pasta are found everywhere. Many tropical fruits and vegetables make up dishes fromÂ Amazon regions. Spices such as Cumin are often used as well.
Venezuelan Meals and Restaurants
Breakfast in Venezuela consists of a small pastry or toast with tea, coffee, or juice.Â Cachitos de Jamon, or ham crescent rolls, are a typical option. Most Venezuelans have their biggest meal of the day during lunchtime or midday, which explains why the time is also one of the best to eat out. Lunch specials can be found at almost every restaurant and often include a set meal with several courses for a very low price such as $3-5. Called the menu ejecutivo or menu cubierto, these meals are generally simple and filling. Dinner consists of a light snack.
Venezuelan Cuisine Prices
With the exception of high priced restaurants in Caracas and at resorts, typical meals in Venezuela are incredibly cheap by Western standards. For instance a large, well prepared shrimp dish may set you back about $10, while a thick, juicy steak will run about $5. A beer averages at about a dollar at a bar or restaurant, while a cheap bottle of wine is about $3. Bottled water -highly recommended- is only about a dime.
Pabellon –The national dish of Venezuela consists of rice, black beans, and banana covered in stewed and shredded meat.
Arepas – Arepas are a common snack food found in Venezuela made of corn flour, water, and salt and often fried or baked. They can be topped with a number of ingredients such as chicken, ham, cheese, or jam.
Hallaca – This cake like dish consists of cornmeal and a combination of beef, ham, pork, and green peppers that are wrapped in banana leaves and boiled.
Hervido – This soup combines beef, chicken or fish with potatoes and other Venezuelan vegetables depending on region.
Meats –Meat is very common in almost every dish. Vegetarians in Venezuela are out of luck. Beef tops the list, but deer, capybara, goat, rabbit, lamb, and chicken are also on the menu.
Venezuelan wine is generally of a very poor quality and most prefer to drink wines imported from Argentina or Chile. Beer and rum are quite good however.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.