Like all other cuisines in different parts of the world, Venezuela foods is deeply intertwined with the history and the culture of the region. However, unlike other parts of the world, where the methods of food preparation and presentation are almost ubiquitous, traditional Venezuela foods change from one region to another, though there are some properties that all the places share.
History of Traditional Venezuela Foods
Most Venezuela foods recipes can trace its origins from the natives of the regions. The Auke, Caquetio, Kalina, and the Timoto-Cuicas were the earliest inhabitants of the region, there even before Christopher Colombus landed in the country.
During that time, the most dominant foods were potatoes and Ullucos, which is primarily a root vegetable but can be used as a fruit vegetable. The natives of Venezuela had elaborate irrigation techniques, which ensured that they had food throughout the year.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in the region, he came with his Spanish conquistadors, and Venezuela was colonized by the French. Obviously, the French culture and way of life had a huge impact on the cuisine of the native region. For example, the Venezuelans have a dish called Cachitos, which is very similar to the French Croissant and is filled with ham. French fries are also a huge delicacy in the region.
During the time of Venezuelan colonization, people from a myriad of European counties moved into the region. They were hoping to start new lives, since Venezuela had more fertile soil, and was less populated than Europe. Italians, Portuguese, and the French, although in smaller communities as compared to the Spanish, all moved into the region.
The Europeans came with their culture and their cuisine, and, over time, they managed to ingrain their foods and cuisine into that of the region. For example, the pasticho is a favorite amongst the Venezuelans. It is, in preparation and presentation, akin to Italian lasagna. Cheese is also very popular in Venezuela, and this can directly be attributed to the European immigrants that came into the country.
Old Style Venezuela Foods and Cuisine
As mentioned earlier, there are variations in the meals and cuisines in different parts of Venezuela. This is because of the different climatic and soil conditions of different parts of the country. Old school cooking techniques are based on the ingredients the locals were able to find in their immediate surroundings, and thus they tend to change from palace to place.
Some of the staple Venezuela foods in the country include tomatoes, onions, potatoes, eggplants, squashes, zucchini, and spinach. Venezuela is a tropical region, that gets a lot of rainfall, which was suitable for the growth of vegetables.
Moreover, vegetables were much easier to irrigate in seasons when rain was low. Vegetables are also much easier to cook, and are very nutritious. This is the reason why they are prevalent in most of the old-style Venezuelan dishes.
The vegetable soups were seasoned mainly through Aji dulce and papelon, which, even today, are found in most recipes.
The vegetable soups, once prepared, were served alongside corn, rice, beans, or plantains. These crops are not only simple to grow, but they also did not require a lot of labor, and also fulfilled all the nutritional requirements. Meat was also essential in old-style Venezuelan cuisine and food, and could also be made into a stew.
Traditional Venezuela foods ingredients for the old school foods include ground corn, precooked corn flour, limes, and the creole version of bouquet garini, which comprises green onions, spearmint, fresh cilantro, and parsley.
Modern Venezuela Foods and Cooking
Like most of the cuisines and foods from other parts of the world, modern-day Venezuelan foods trace its roots in the traditional and old-style way of cooking. As mentioned earlier, different regions of the country have different foods and methods of preparing food.
The eastern region of Venezuela is the one that is most influenced by the Spanish way of cooking, mainly because many Spaniards chose to settle near or around the coastal region. It also has influences from France, mainly Corsica. Indians from Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana have also played a huge part in the cuisine of the region, as well as immigrants from the Dutch Caribbean.
The traditional Venezuela foods from that area is filled with mixed aromas and spices, and yet it remains simple and fresh. Fish is a huge part of the cuisine in the region, mainly because of the sea. It is mainly accompanied by avocadoes and ripe tomatoes, which are sprinkled with juicy limes in order to accentuate their flavor. The creole version of France’s boudin noir, the fresh blood sausage, as well as the creole chorizos and native chilies are also intricate parts of the cuisine of the region.
The northwestern part of Venezuela borders Colombia, and the common food in the region is plantain that has been deep-fried. It is accompanied by shredded beef, cabbage, shredded carrots, or chicken, and can be dressed with tomatoes, mayonnaise, parsley, or garlic. These traditional Venezuela foods change by regions.
In the Andean region, soups are predominant. The soups there are rich, hot and delicious, and serve as an antidote to the region’s cold climate.
Sothern Venezuela is full of rivers and water bodies, and thus it should come as no surprise that fish is eaten quite a lot in the said region. The types of fish that are rich in fat, like lau lau, pavon, or the sapoara are used to make stews and soups. These stews and soups are uniquely different from those of the eastern region.
Venezuelan cocoa is internationally regarded as the best in the world, and it forms the base of some of the most delicious Venezuelan desserts. Alongside coconuts, and a plethora of other tropical fruits in the region, Venezuelan desserts are some of the best you will find.
Beverages also form an important part of modern Venezuelan cuisine. These authentic Venezuela foods include Cocada, which is a coconut milkshake, is mostly found in the coastal areas. Ponche crema is mainly served during the Christmas holidays. Frescolita is a strawberry-flavored soda that is also very popular in the country, alongside mango and passion fruit.
There is also a myriad of alcoholic beverages taken in the region. Rum, as is the case in most of the Caribbean and South American countries, is especially popular. Beer is also another alcoholic drink that Venezuelans love. On celebrations and special occasions, tequila is the drink that is served.
Our Favorite 33 Venezuela Foods & Their Traditional Recipes
1. Cachapas (Corn Pancakes) – Venezuela Foods
Although cachapas are also a well-known dish in Colombia, their origin comes from the central region of Venezuela.
The indigenous people who populated the north-central Miranda region of Venezuela cultivated corn. This cereal was worshiped by the indigenous people and considered of divine origin.
2. Pabellón Criollo – Venezuela Foods Recipes
This pabellón criollo recipe is not one that you prepare in 30 minutes. However, it is not difficult to execute. This recipe is actually a combination of 3 to 4 distinct preparations. For my version of pabellón criollo, I chose to accompany my carne mechada (shredded beef) with traditional caraotas negras (black beans), rice and also tajadas (plantains). Some versions of pabellón criollo also include a fried egg.
3. Guasacaca – Venezuela Foods
Many people compare Venezuelan Guasacaca with Guacamole, but for me, they are two very different flavors. Guasacaca can be served as a sauce to top a steak, hamburger, hotdog, tacos, and tostadas. Even to dress other side dishes, such as potatoes, yuca, or anything else you can think of. Guasacaca can also be used as a simple dip to serve with chips.
4. Pasticho – Venezuela Foods Dishes
5. Papelón con Limón – Venezuela Foods
6. Chocolate Marquesa – Venezuela Recipes
This no-fuss dessert is part of many Venezuelan birthdays, holidays or gatherings with friends and family. But to be honest, I do not need an excuse to make it. it’s something you can get to see in my fridge very often because my whole family loves it.
7. Alfajores (Dulce de leche Sandwich Cookies) – Venezuela Foods
Alfajores are a popular sweet treat in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, among others.
These delicious melt in your mouth sandwich cookies, are made using a mix of wheat flour and cornstarch. They have a filling of milk caramel or dulce de leche, also known as manjar de leche, manjar blanco, arequipe, or cajeta. Delicious authentic Venezuela foods.
8. Polvorosas – Venezuelan Recipes
These cookies were my weakness when I was a child. Sorry… Let me rephrase that; they still are!! Oh man… they are so good!! The name “Polvorosas” refers to the sandy texture of these delicate and crumbly cookies.
9. Arepa de Dominó (Corncake Filled with Black Beans) – Venezuela Foods
They can be eaten plain, served with sauce, or stuffed with a variety of fillings. Here, we stuff it with a traditional Venezuelan filling of black beans, known as caraotas
10. Arepas With Chicken and Avocado – Venezuela Dishes
Delicious authentic Venezuela foods with shredded white meat chicken tossed with tender avocado, mayonnaise, garlic, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and cilantro. It’s easy to imagine how delicious this chicken salad would be just from reading the ingredients, right? Just wait until you try it sandwiched between an arepa that’s still warm from the oven!
11. Hallacas (Tamales) – Venezuela Foods
This lightened version uses leaner cuts of meat, skips the bacon, and stews all the meats together.
12. Bien Me Sabe (Coconut Cream Cake) – Venezuela Recipes
This cake is similar to tres leches cake in that it is served chilled and is extremely moist, sweet, and rich. You can prepare this cake using a cake mix to save time, or use your favorite white cake or sponge cake recipe. Bien me sabe is best if allowed to chill overnight, so plan ahead if possible.
13. Carne Mechada (Shredded Beef) – Venezuela Foods
Make a big batch, and you can have something different with it for days. Versatile traditional Venezuela foods.
14. Pollo Guisado – Venezuela Foods Dish
You can make this chicken stew with or without potatoes and carrot, that is up to your preferences. If you don’t add potatoes you can cook some rice as a side dish and it will work great with the pollo guisado sauce.
15. Ponqué De Toronja (Grapefruit Pound Cake) – Venezuela Foods
16. Arepas – Venezuelan Recipes
Hundreds of years ago, arepas were being cooked by indigenous tribes across Venezuela, on the northern tip of South America. In fact, the name arepa comes from the indigenous word Erepa, which means corn.
Arepas are corn patties that are now widely popular in both Colombia and Venezuela foods. Imagine a corn tortilla crossed with a tamale, all in an English muffin shape.
17. Easy Venezuelan Chicha – Venezuela Foods
This Venezuelan Chicha is creamy, smooth, and super decadent! This refreshing and super easy to make drink will be enjoyed by everyone.
18. Avocado Chicken Salad – Venezuela Dishes
This avocado chicken salad recipe was originally designed to be the stuffing for a beloved Venezuelan dish called reina pepiada: Venezuelan arepas with chicken avocado salad. Arepas are gluten-free corn cakes, eaten in Venezuela instead of bread.
19. Polvorosa de Pollo (Chicken Pot Pie) – Venezuela Foods
First, I would say it’s the complexity of the flavors in the chicken stew. It reminds me of the complexity of the stew of the Venezuelan hallacas. In fact, every time I make polvorosa de pollo, my house smells like when I’m cooking the stew for the hallacas.
20. Easy Venezuelan Cocada – Venezuela Recipes
21. Quesillo (Venezuelan Flan) – Venezuela Foods
It's not everyday your grandmother asks you how to cook something! I will however warn you: quesillo is not for everyone.
I have learned that some people just don't like the texture. To that I can only really say that at least there will be more for the rest of us.
22. Perico Venezolano (Scrambled Eggs) – Venezuela Dishes
23. Asado Negro – Venezuela Foods
Asado Negro is one of the most traditional dishes in Venezuela foods. Each Venezuelan family has its own version. But today you can forget all other Asado Negro recipes… this one is to die for! Usually, this dish is served with white rice and fried plantains but this time I served it with mashed potatoes.
24 Venezuelan-Style Barbecue Shrimp – Venezuela Dishes
25. Venezuelan Pork Roast – Venezuela Foods
26. Guarapo (Homemade Pineapple Cooler) – Venezuela Dishes
That put me in mind of two things. One, my husband, who loves pineapple. Second, Guarapo de Piña. “Guarapo” is a fizzy, slightly alcoholic drink made from fruit, and Guarapo de Piña is based on pineapple rinds. I learned to make it when I lived in Venezuela.
I left the market pineapples alone, but bought a nice ripe one from the grocer close to home. My husband and Little One devoured the fruit, but I kept the fragrant rinds for my own treat.
27. Tizana (Venezuelan Fruit Punch) – Venezuela Foods
Though perhaps not traditional, I’m guilty of digging into the pitcher at breakfast time, dessert time, and, of course, at midnight.
I can see how having tizana in the fridge would be a great way to get my daily allotment of fruit, especially when in a hurry
28. Venezuela Libre – Venezuela Recipes
I found it in a cute little book by Dave Stolte called Home Bar Basics and Not-So-Basics. The book lists 12 ‘basic’ drinks and 13 ‘not-so-basic’ drinks, most of them classics. They each come with illustrations, as Stolte does that sort of thing for a living.
29. Abondigas Venezuelan – Venezuela Foods
30. Ponche Crema – Venezuelan Recipes
Make it not earlier than two days and store it in the refrigerator. Then serve it in small glasses with a few ice cubes.
31. Venezuelan Chocolate–Rum Drink – Venezuela Foods
32. Tres Leches – Three Milk Cake – Venezuela Dishes
33. Venezuelan Style Brisket – Venezuela Foods
David and I have a big bucket list of things we’d like to do and places to visit. South America is on that list; Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile (including Easter Island), Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador (Galápagos Islands), and many more…
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