Guasacaca / ,gwæ.sæ’ka.ka/
is the Venezuelan name for avocado sauce. The traditional sauce blends avocado with a number of fresh herbs and vegetables. It is the perfect complement for arepas.
Arepa is, without dispute, Venezuela’s most traditional dish. Its origins date back to precolumbian times, when the “Caribs,” a native indian tribe from the northern section of Venezuela, prepared a dough made with granulated maize, called erepa, which they then baked into thin round shaped “breads.” Many written accounts from Spanish conquistadors during the XVI century, describe the erepa as a food prepared by diverse tribes across what we today recognise as Venezuela and Colombia.
Up until 1960, the process of obtaining maize powder to prepare arepa dough was long and tedious. Maize grains had to be dried, pounded and granulated to produce the right mixture. In the 1950’s, however, a Venezuelan engineer called Dr. Luis Caballero Mejías came up with an invention that simplified the entire process.
He sold the patent to Venezuelan beer and malted drink company, Empresas Polar, which by 1960 had developed an industrial method to produce and distribute corn flour in large quantities. Harina P.A.N was thus born, immediately establishing itself as the major brand of maize flour not just in Venezuela, but also in Colombia and other countries with a culinary tradition of maize-dough dishes.
fter the release of Harina P.A.N, arepa consumption in Venezuela incremented exponentially. Every family household developed their own individual recipes out of the usual mixture of water, harina pan and salt. Some people choose to fry them, others boil them, others bake them and others grill them. Some people mix them with butter or oatmeal or spices or cheese. The stuffing options are endless too, ranging from beef and chicken to cheese, beans and avocado.
Arepas are deeply ingrained in Venezuelan culture and identity and, in a way, they reflect the diversity and dynamism of this South American/Caribbean country. All these reasons may explain why arepas make such a great export product. They are filling and delicious, and they are also glutten free; but above all, arepas are a versatile and adaptable dish, one that can be enjoyed in Europe and South America and everywhere else in the world.