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When Belkis Castro and her husband Jose F. Theoktisto relocated to Clifton Park in 2008 from their native (and warm!) Venezuela, they were delighted with the beauty of the area, the four seasons, and the warm receptivity of the people.
As their two daughters entered college, Belkis, an attorney by profession, found herself having more time to connect with neighbors. They loved to have people come over to their home, and offered them homemade arepas.
People love the arepas, but it was more about enjoying a good moment with friends and sharing histories over delicious food.
To their surprise, they learned that beside the raving praise from their guest, a lot of them appreciated the fact that the arepas were naturally gluten free, which was a delicious discovery to the growing population with gluten intolerance.
As no one in the Capital Region offered this type of Venezuelan delicacy, and the people from the area were very appreciative of the good food, the idea was initiated and matured. Belkis and her husband, Jose, an executive of a large corporation, decided to offer the Capital Region the opportunity to enjoy this delicious food and the warm environment.
Ideas and dreams became reality and Oh Corn! Arepas and More was born.
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Corn is the most cultivated crop in the world, which provides about 20% of the human nutrition across the globe. Corn does not contain gluten, the main protein contained in most of the European grass crops like wheat, barley and rye. This fact makes the arepa a naturally gluten-free product, without the need of additives or artificial processing. Corn was introduced to the western civilization since 1492, when Cristopholo Columbus led the series of expedition that resulted in the encounter of the Old and New World.
However, Indigenous inhabitants of North, Central and South America were already cultivating and eating corn or its different forms for more than 9,000 years. It is believed that a great number of the gluten related intolerance diseases were result of the introduction of wheat to the Americas, a gramineae that was completely foreign to the local indigenous people, who started developing allergies that have been passed through generations.
The Caribs and Cumanagoto tribes in what is today Venezuela, used to cook a local crop of white corn, in order to soften its natural hardness. Once cooked, they will smash it until it become a soft dough and then make small patties that will ultimately be cooked again over a fire pit.
The word Arepa comes from the voice ‘erepa,’ that means maize for these tribes. Due to its artisanal and rather complex process, it remained as an exotic delicacy reserved to the few who loved the art of its making by itself. It was not until 1960, when an industrial method of cooking the corn was developed, including smashing and dehydrating it in form of flour, that the eating of the arepa spreaded all around the country. Today arepas are eaten daily for breakfast, lunch or dinner by almost every inhabitant in the country, equally among all social classes.
The average arepa has a 3 inch diameter and weighs about 200g. Eaten alone, it will provide you with approximate 19g of carbohydrates, 5g of protein and approximately 100 calories. It contains 5% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C, 3% of Vitamin D and around 1% of iron. All this value will significantly change depending of the fillings you will put inside. Because is a corn product, it is completely gluten free.
There are almost infinite ways to stuff an arepa at Oh Corn!
At Arepas and More, we offer some of the most popular fillings that have been well received by our local patrons:
• The Carne Mechada: a seasoned shredded prime beef, Pernil, a pork fresh ham slowly cooked in red wine and orange juice
• The Reina Pepiada or “Queen": a delicious chicken breast salad mixed in avocado, mayonnaise and cilantro, named in honor of the first Venezuelan “Miss World” in 1955
• The Domino: a chunk of mozzarella or fresh white cheese topped with black beans, resembling a tile of the popular game.
But when talking about arepas, your imagination is the limit and you can also stuff it with a variety of most known ingredients like:
ham, turkey, roast beef, corn beef, salami, provolone, American cheese, Swiss cheese, feta cheese & more!
An arepa will stand on its feet when filled with these delicious vegetarian or vegan fillings: black beans, chick peas, sweet plantains, avocado, tomato, onion, cucumber, heart of palm, alfalfa sprouts, feta cheese, provolone cheese, gouda cheese, Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives.
The cachapa is a soft and spongy yellow corn pancake. Is the cousin of the arepa but is sweeter, and is also gluten-free.
You can taste the sweetness of the fresh yellow corn at the first bit. Traditionally cachapas are eaten in Venezuela with white fresh cheese or mozzarella melted inside, but they can also be eaten with the same fillings used in the arepas for a delicious sweet and savory combination.
Our Menu also includes the following signature snacks that can be combined with an arepa or can be a meal by themselves:
Deep fried small and crispy arepas
Deep fried arepas sweetened with molasses and sprinkled with anise seeds
Fried cassava sticks with a dip of our cilantro sauce
Maduros: Ripe fried plantain, naturally sweet
Fried slices of green plantain with a dip of our pink sauce
100% Natural Juices: Freshly squeezed orange juice and brown lemonade (squeezed lemons sweetened with molasses), Guava, Passion Fruit, Tamarindo, Guanabana, Papaya, Mango, Tres en Uno (orange, beet and carrot)
All the food that is prepared at our kitchen is 100% gluten-free.