Arepas are one of those street foods of South America that have a universal appeal. Like any food, arepas vary from region to region, country to country. They are similar to the Salvadoran pupusas, but tastier. Venezuelan arepas are small, about 3 inches across, while the Colombian arepas are the size of a small tortilla.
Where to find it: Freshly ground corn arepas
Roger Silva, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, opened Antojitos mi Colombia Bakery (4740 Old Pineville Road, 704-258-3502) four months ago. (I actually had gone to the location for the Guatemalan cheese bread from the previous owner.) Silva says his is the only bakery in the city that grinds corn in-house for their arepas -- and I saw the bags of corn.
He sells bags of frozen arepas. The ones stuffed with cheese, the arepa de queso, and the arepa de choclo (native corn), are five for $8, while the plain Colombian arepas are 10 for $6.50. Smaller arepas are $3.50 for a dozen. The cheese is mozzarella.
These arepas are easy to fix at home. Defrost in the microwave, then griddle the cheese-stuffed arepas or grill the plain arepas over an open flame.
Silva's shop is a Colombian bakery, so he also has beef (shredded, not ground) and chicken empanadas, buñuelos (ball-shaped deep fried dough stuffed with cheese), and the popular pandebono (Colombian cheese bread) as well as pastries, Colombian soft drinks, and even a burger.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the QC? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-522-8334, ext 136.