Venezuela – Melting Pot of Indian, African and European cultures

Maria Sabrina was born in the village of Cepecurinare, in the Aragua Valley. This region has been traditionally Pemon Indian Territory. Today it is a melting pot- -with a mixing of European, Indian and African races. Spanish, the official language is actually sung, not spoken- – It is said that Venezuelans speak Spanish but in a singsong rhythm. Venezuelans also enjoy music and dancing. Popular dances include exciting, rhythmic Salsa and such fast, lively Caribbean dances as the Merengue and Guaracha. The national folk dance is called Jarupo. This stamping dance is performed to the music of Cuatros (four-stringed guitar) and Maracas.

The Venezuelan food, although sprinkled with European and African touches, has very strong Indian influence. “Traditionally for breakfast, we eat Arepa (a corn pancake made from corn flour which in itself is plain and comes as an accompaniment to some dishes), or else Cachapa (a round pancake made of fresh corn). Arepa and Cachapa are eaten with some vegetable preparation like sauteed Calabaza (squash), Berenjina (eggplant), Fijoles (red beans) or Aveja (fresh corn). Sometimes Arepa and Cachapa are eaten with avocado, bananas or papayas. And of course nowadays with cheese and jam,” says Maria Sabrina. In the rural valleys, Venezuelan women traditionally roll out Arepa and Cachapas early in the morning.

For lunch and dinner, Maria Sabrina’s family usually eats Pabellon Criollo (a main dish made with rice, black beans, cheese and fried ripe bananas). This is Venezuela’s national dish. Then they would have Empanadas (deep-fried cornmeal turnover stuffed with beans and cheese) and Hervido (soup made with potatoes, carrots and local root vegetables). Another popular dish is Hallaca (vegetables and olives folded in a corn dough, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed). Venezuelans also like to eat Tequeno (white cheese strips wrapped in pastry and deep-fried) and various root crops cooked in Salsa de Tomate (tomato sauce). For desserts, there is Quesillo (caramel custard), Arroz con Leche (sweet rice with cream and sugar), sweetened Bananas or Mani (peanuts), and various sweet preparations made with cocoa such as Champorado, Churros, and Chocolate con Leche.

It is said that Venezuelans speak Spanish but in a singsong rhythm.

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