What exactly is an Arepa and where can I get one?
Actually, the ones in Jackson Heights are Colombian, though there might be one place here to get Venezuelan ones. Those are found in several places in Manhattan - see recent Manhattan posts and the Times review from the week before last.
Colombian arepas come in various forms, all made with corn. In restaurants, one gets a plain cornmeal arepita with just about every meal, in the form of a small plump white stone that tastes, IMNO, like water. Or you can order an arepa con queso that is almost as thin as a tortilla (completely different taste) topped with cheese. Meanwhile, bakeries and vendors in the street, including Our Lady of the Arepas, sell something in the form of a nice thick pancake. This is slightly sweet and has cheese mixed into the dough. I find most of these tasty, the Arepa Lady's a tad better than most, partly because she cooks them just right. She also sells something called arepa de choclo con queso, a sweet corn arepa with cheese on the top. It's like the ones you get in restaurants except that the arepa itself is quite sweet with discernable kernals of corn in the batter. The arepa lady only comes out on weekend nights from midnight until about 5 a.m. Other vendors are more accessible in their schedule, but Piedad is the nicest one I've found and quite bemused by the to-do made over her by the internet gringos. If you do come late to the Arepa Lady (Roosevelt Ave. 77/78th St), order the arepa con queso. I wouldn't recommend her chuzos (kebabs), and the arepas de choclo are not quite as good a combo of sweet and salty, although I once finished off one of each without too much effort.
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