About

There is a very appropriate proverb that states we never know what we’ve got, until it’s gone.   That’s is how I feel about my country, Venezuela.   I was born and raised there and lived there until I was 18, when I moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.   In my country most people dream of leaving the country and coming to America, where there are better opportunities, education, freedoms, and safety.   I am truly blessed to have achieved those goals that most people only dream of.   However, I really miss my country, my family, my friends, and authentic Venezuelan Food.

I am not much of a cook, but in order to have some Venezuelan dishes, I’ve had to learn how to make them myself.    Not knowing much about cooking has made it very tough.   In Fort Lauderdale, especially in the very Venezuelan-Populated town of Weston, or as we call it, Weston-zuela, the transition wasn’t even noticeable.   There are Venezuelan restaurants, bakeries, and even “areperas”.   Sometimes you can find Venezuelan products that you can’t even find nowadays in Venezuela.

However, I had to move to Montgomery, Alabama, where I have only met two other Latin American friends, and no Venezuelans.   I was lucky to find the Venezuelan “Harina PAN” in one Mexican market, but that was only once.   I visit Fort Lauderdale at least once a year, so I stock up on Harina PAN and any other Venezuelan product I can find.

The nostalgic feeling about Venezuela in general and about Venezuelan Cooking and authentic Venezuelan Food is what inspired me to write this blog.   The way I figured it is that if I was missing my country and food, and was unable to find ingredients or ingredient substitutes, I was sure there were other people out there in the same boat, and maybe we could help each other out.   I also thought about all the times I have cooked some delicious Venezuelan food for some of my American friends and what a success it always was.    I figured, if they like it, then other people who are not Venezuelan might like it too.

So there you have it. This is a blog about Venezuelan Cooking and Authentic Venezuelan Food, by a non-chef, simple Venezuelan girl, who just misses her country and food.   An authentic Venezuelan who wants to share anecdotes, tips, ingredients, and photos of her own journey in creating and finding authentic Venezuelan flavor in the US.

46 Responses to “About”

  1. Carolina Nessi-Asplund November 9, 2012 at 09:59 #

    I am truly enjoying reading your blog, you are doing a GREAT job! I am also a Venezuelan that emigrated 7 years ago to Texas and I feel exactly the same nostalgic feeling for our Venezuelan Food, and that’s my first choice when I entertain or cook in a daily basis. My daughters “demand” arepas, empanadas, bollitos, etc… all the time. And my american hubby has fun when I cook a dish with my Latin Twist. Example: Classic Maryland Crab cakes with “Aji Dulce” sauce (he LOVED it!). Keep up with the good work!

    • mwolowicz November 12, 2012 at 19:28 #

      Carolina,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am glad my blog inspires you and helps you bring the Venezuelan flavors to your home in Texas.

      MW

    • JB February 9, 2013 at 05:43 #

      I also love Venezuelan food and enjoyed it while working in Caracas for a telexom project. I can not get this type of food in Canada unfortunately. My favorite was a tea house serving arepas close to the office. I miss my dear friends from Venezuela.

      • mwolowicz February 12, 2013 at 10:51 #

        JB,

        Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. What part of CANADA do you live in? I have relatives in Calgary and they know other Venezuelans there, and they assure me they are able to find the necessary ingredients to make their own Venezuelan food!

        You should definitely try to find a hispanic community and/or market nearby and see what they can offer. Some little markets also sell ready made foods like arepas, empanadas, pastelitos and such. I hope you get lucky and you are able to sample some authentic Venezuelan food in Canada.

        MW

  2. maria November 16, 2012 at 02:32 #

    please a recipe for bollos pellones and polenta venezuelana

    • mwolowicz January 21, 2013 at 10:59 #

      Maria,

      Thank you for your comment. My husband saw a picture of “Bollos Pelones” in one of my cookbooks and has always wanted me to make them. Perhaps I will try to make them soon. Thank you for the request.

      MW

  3. Sam January 12, 2013 at 19:56 #

    I was born in Venezuela but raised in the US, and grew up on all of these dishes! I moved away for college three years ago and realized that I had never learned how to actually make any of it. It is so great to have these detailed recipes available here, especially since “recipes” given to me from my family often include “a little bit of this” and “a handful or so of that”. To someone who doesn’t really cook, it is very easy to mess up based on those instructions! So THANK you for helping me enjoy my culture away from home!

    • mwolowicz January 21, 2013 at 10:53 #

      Dear Sam,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. It always makes me happy to hear that other Venezuelans are able to create their childhood favorites thanks to my recipes and my blog. And I know exactly what you are talking about when you say all recipes given to you by your family are “al ojo por ciento”, which is not very helpful.

      MW

  4. jaime perez July 29, 2013 at 14:20 #

    What a wonderful blog you have Melissa. The recipes are fabulous and good photography to promote them. Thanks for sharing to the world the marvelous of venezuelan food and traditions in such a great way. Thank you for following my blog and I hope you can enjoy the Venezuelan views that I’m sure you miss alot. Un fuerte abrazo de un desconocido venezolano que ya se enamoró de tu comida; éxitos!

    • mwolowicz July 29, 2013 at 14:34 #

      Jaime,

      Thank you very much for your kind words, and for your praise on the photography. It means a great deal coming from a photographer such as yourself. I definitely will enjoy all the photos of Venezuelan landscapes you share with the world on your blog.

      Saludos,

      MW

      • prettysmartone July 29, 2013 at 22:27 #

        I lived in Venezuela years ago, and didn’t know any Americans, so I had ample chance to experience Venezuelan food with the Venezuelans I met there. I still make some of the dishes and condiments I discovered in Venezuela, so finding your blog and remembering old recipes is very delightful.

        • mwolowicz July 30, 2013 at 13:48 #

          Prettysmartone,

          Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. I am glad you found the blog and I hope you can follow these easy recipes to bring back those memories of your time in Venezuela.

          MW

  5. Laura August 7, 2013 at 22:41 #

    I just bumped into your blog by looking for “venezuelan food” on Google and I love it! I’m also venezuelan, moved to Miami and lived there for 7 years and you are absolutely right, SO easy to find familiar ingredients/restaurants. I recently moved with my husband to Los Angeles and let me tell you, to find Harina Pan was a hassle!, but luckily we found some in this market chain called Vallartas. We were so excited we took pictures next to the packages and send them to our families/friends lol. I specially liked your post about apio, since I’ve been there sooo many times, trying to find ingredients to recreate the flavors of my youth and beloved country. I also cook and have a food section on my website, and even as I haven’t blogged about venezuelan food yet, I already have a couple of recipes I’m about to post about like “chicken with mojo”, among others. Thank you for sharing your recipes and mouth watering pics!

    • mwolowicz August 8, 2013 at 19:05 #

      Laura,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. I am glad you liked the blog. People like you is exactly why I started this blog. Please share any pictures of Venezuelan Foods you prepare with the rest of us.

      MW

  6. Justin Yentes September 1, 2013 at 17:34 #

    MW,
    I have to say, this blog is fantastic!! Although I am from the US, I lived in Venezuela for several years and fell in love with the culture, people, the language and the food!
    Over the last few days I’ve been making arepas, cachapas and tajadas fritas. Luckily, in Arizona we have a few chains that sell Harina PAN and the other required ingredients. We also have one Venezuelan restaurant in town, which I love.
    Thanks for putting this together!

    Justin

    • mwolowicz September 12, 2013 at 18:17 #

      Justin,

      Thank you for visiting the blog. Thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words. I am happy you enjoyed the blog. Please let everyone know the name of this Venezuelan restaurant in Arizona.

      MW

  7. Mariela September 17, 2013 at 21:09 #

    Dear Melissa:

    Many thanks for sharing the blog. I am also Venezuelan moved first to England and after to Finland. I have left my loved Venezuela 18 years ago but I keep my culture and my Venezuelan roots. I love cooking for family and friends. Your blog is really impressed because of quality of photos, good recipes and of course Venezuelan family “bonds”. I also buy Harina Pan in Helsinki and my children love “arepas Venezolanas”, which are reclaimed to be made on week ends. By the way, my sister in love, a Finnish,who loves cooking desserts, is working on a Web Site about Venezuelan Food. Hence, I would like kindly to ask you if she could use your photographs and recipes mentioning you as author of both recipes and photos. Greetings from Santa Claus land!

    • Mariela September 17, 2013 at 21:12 #

      Just amending my email address and telling you thanks again!

      • Mariela September 17, 2013 at 21:16 #

        Dear Melissa:

        Many thanks for sharing the blog. I am also Venezuelan moved first to England and after to Finland. I have left my loved Venezuela 18 years ago but I keep my culture and my Venezuelan roots. I love cooking for family and friends. Your blog is really impressed because of quality of photos, good recipes and of course Venezuelan family “bonds”. I also buy Harina Pan in Helsinki and my children love “arepas Venezolanas”, which are reclaimed to be made on week ends. By the way, my sister in love, a Finnish,who loves cooking desserts, is working on a Web Site about Venezuelan Food. Hence, I would like kindly to ask you if she could use your photographs and recipes mentioning you as author of both recipes and photos. Greetings from Santa Claus land!

        • alemendez93 February 10, 2014 at 09:07 #

          Where did you buy harina pan in Helsinki. I am living here and I need to make some arepas for some friends Its urgent please!!!

    • mwolowicz September 26, 2013 at 13:31 #

      Mariela,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. It always makes me happy to hear about other Venezuelans who enjoy our food outside of Venezuela. Could you please share with us where do you find Harina Pan in Helsinki?

      Regarding your sister in law using my recipes and photos, please e-mail me privately at: melissa.wolowicz (at) gmail.com.

      Thank you again,

      MW

    • Alejandro Méndez Orellana February 10, 2014 at 08:59 #

      In what part of Helsinki you buy it! I’ve been looking for it everywhere?

  8. Ira October 13, 2013 at 12:51 #

    This is a serious matter:

    Last night, I accidentally turned the wrong burner on on the stovetop, and I destroyed my wife’s Arepa maker. I didn’t know the burner was on, and it melted a huge chunk out of it.

    We’ve been married for 24 years. She’s native Venezuelan, I’m not.

    She’s had this thing for 25 years, she doesn’t like the electric ones, and I’m never gonna hear the end of this!

    She was all over eBay and elsewhere on the internet and can’t find anything like it–just a simple old-fashioned 4-arepa press. She also complains that the electric ones, in addition to having poor heat control, make the arepas too “round” at the top and bottom, not flat enough. (I just stared numbingly at her and replied, “Yes, dear.”)

    HELP! WE LIVE IN SOUTH FLORIDA! (Coral Springs)

    WHERE CAN I FIND ONE OF THESE THINGS SO PEACE CAN RETURN TO MY HOME!?

    I would be HAPPY to receive your suggestions at:

    irarather@yahoo.com

    Thanks for your time and attention to this matter, but I don’t know what it is with you Venezuelans and your AREPAS! (Hah!)

    –Ira

    P.S. This issue is so serious that I was considering visiting the VZ consulate here, but the Chavistas closed it down.

    • mwolowicz October 14, 2013 at 10:55 #

      Ira,

      I am deeply sorry to hear about your wife’s arepa press. I am sure you feel very bad about it, so I will not make you feel any worse. I know what she means about the electric ones not being as good as the original arepa press. The electric ones, the arepa toasters, definitely do not make arepas even close to the traditional ways. I am sure she also doesn’t want to cook arepas in the traditional way, because it is more time consuming than with an arepa press or tosti-arepa.

      I have never seen an old ‘stove-top’ arepa press, except for in a picture in one of my Venezuelan cooking books. I think it will be very hard for you to find one. My suggestions would be using the internet, but I see that you have tried that already. The next best thing would be to try to find it in Venezuela, maybe through your wife’s relatives, if she still has any living in Venezuela. I don’t believe that you can find it in a store, but maybe someone has one from their grandmother or great-grandmother that they are not using and might want to give away.

      Other than that, I am afraid you are out of luck. Do you think you could share a picture of your burned arepa press? Maybe it can help other readers see what it looks like and see if they have one in their attics or basement that they are willing to sell and ship to you.

      Good luck with your search, I will keep an eye out for one. Please let us know if you find one and where/how.

      Thank you,

      MW

      PS: I doubt that the consulate would help you even if they were open😦

    • Laura October 14, 2013 at 13:44 #

      Hi Ira, your post got to me, I also lived in Venezuela until I was an adult and I know how big a deal the “arepa” issue is. I lived in Florida for 7 years before moving to L.A. and even though there are things from Vzla you can find easily over there, the arepa makers are not one of them. I mean, you can find them, in the Sedano’s markets or even at some Target stores, but the quality isn’t the best. I bought two, one Oster and one Imusa, had to return them both since they were awful. The only solution I found was to ask for my husband’s sister (venezuelan) to bring us one from the country in one of her visits. Problem solved. She brought us an Oster model 4895-814 which is electric but makes very thin and crunchy arepas. My suggestion: you can go to Sedano’s and try one of the models they have, maybe I just had back luck, but I would def ask for one directly from Venezuela if that’s a possibility for you. Hope this helps,

      Best,

      Laura

  9. tracy northcutt January 13, 2014 at 03:45 #

    You can order P.A.N. on Amazon, even with Free Shipping. 🙂

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_76_0?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aharina+pan%2Cp_76%3A2661625011&keywords=harina+pan&ie=UTF8&qid=1389599043&rnid=2661623011

    • mwolowicz January 20, 2014 at 14:40 #

      Tracy,

      Thank you for sharing this link.

      MW

  10. Platanos, Mangoes and Me! January 25, 2014 at 13:00 #

    I just became a follower and You can know about me at my blog
    http://platanosmangoes.com
    Un placer!

    • mwolowicz January 26, 2014 at 14:33 #

      Norma,

      Thank you for becoming a follower. I did visit your blog and became a follower as well. I love your story on the about me page, and I wanted to ask you, it seems you have a lot of different cultural backgrounds, but I was wondering which is the original one. Where were you born? or where were your parents born?

      Melissa

  11. Kanalu August 11, 2014 at 16:41 #

    Thank you for your hard work with this blog. I lived in Venezuela for a couple of years but have not been back for 10 years now. While I was there I didn’t even pay attention to how much I loved the food because I was too busy missing the foods I grew up with in Hawaii. I’m excited to try out these recipes…they look delicious.

    I have a couple of questions, and maybe one request.

    My biggest concern is about cheese. What cheeses are out there that might even compare to Queso de Mano or Queso Guayanes? Especially here in Hawaii? Can I just make my own queso de mano?

    And now, a request. I once ate a dish called Papas Rellenas. I never saw it anywhere other than in Ciudad Bolivar. It was like mashed potatoes, stuffed with carne molida, dipped in a batter, and deep fried. Is this a common dish? You think you could find a recipe for that?

    Thank you, again. I really am super excited to get to cooking.

    Mahalo and Buen Provecho!

    • mwolowicz August 11, 2014 at 19:14 #

      Aloha Kanalu,

      Thank you very much for visiting the blog and thank you for your comment and questions. My husband was actually born in Hawaii and we were very exited to hear from a reader in Hawaii. Ia m glad you found the blog and you are enjoying it. Please write back when you have tried any of my recipes. Now as far as your questions go…

      Venezuelan cheeses are the hardest to find when not in Venezuela. I recently had a similar request from a reader in New York. As I explained to her, I know there are several comments here on the blog regarding finding cheese in several different locations, but I really can’t remember if anyone else has already asked and answered where to find cheese in Hawaii.
      I can give you a couple of brands that I know of, and several distributors and you can contact them directly and see what they can offer, and if they can refer you to anyone else who distributes and sells in Hawaii.
      Right now, my friend’s dad just opened a distribution location here in South Florida. I know they are just starting out, but if you know anyone in South Florida who is going to visit you in Hawaii, they can brig you one of the best cheeses I’ve tried from “El Señor de los Quesos” (as everyone calls him down here): https://www.facebook.com/zerpasAntojosCriollos
      You can contact them directly and let them know Melissa sent you, and ask them as well if they know of any place in Hawaii.
      This company “El Venezolano” sells all kinds of Venezuelan cheeses, you can contact them and see if anyone distributes their product in Hawaii: http://myantojitos.webs.com/quinessomos.htm
      This website sells them online: http://www.kioskovenezolano.es/
      I hope you are able to find some good Venezuelan cheeses in Hawaii. Please if you would, report back here and let me, and everyone else know if you were able to find some good Venezuelan cheese in Hawaii, what kinds did you find, and where, please.

      I do not know how to make your own cheese, but I can see if I can ask El Señor de los Quesos myself and see if he can give me some recipes or pointers on how to make your own Venezuelan Cheeses. Perhaps I can schedule an interview with him so he can be featured in the blog, as well.

      I am not sure I know of “Papas Rellenas”. I have seen a recipe in some of my books for Papas Rellenas, but they do not have ground beef on the inside, they have cheese inside and they are fried. And I have seen another recipe for another dish called “Bollos Pelones”, which would probably look similar to the Papas Rellenas, but the outside is made out of Harina PAN, not out of potatoes. And the inside is made with ground beef, and they are boiled, not fried. Lastly, they are covered with a tomato based sauce. Is there anything else you remember about the dish so I can look into it a bit further for you?

      Thank you again,

      Melissa

  12. VZ September 3, 2014 at 16:08 #

    Melissa I am so happy I found your blog. What I love is you post our everyday food like ensalada de remolacha…I miss it a lot. Could you try to post about sancocho de vegetales con lagarto (is that also flank meat?) y chupe de pollo? My main problem is I didn’t know what meat to use. Thanks to you now I know carne mechada is with flank or skirt. I love you blog. you are making venezuelans proud.

    • mwolowicz September 3, 2014 at 16:21 #

      VZ,

      Thank you very much for visiting the blog and for your lovely comment. I am glad you found my blog as well. The ‘everyday food’ as you call it, is my favorite, because it reminds me of living in Venezuela and coming home after school and eating those everyday home-made foods for lunch. I am actually working on a sancocho/hervido post, so keep an eye out for it. I am working on a beef cuts translation post as well to help us know what cuts of beef are called here in the US (with illustration included and everything). Thank you again for your kind words, it is readers like you and these wonderful comments that encourage me to continue to research and post Venezuelan recipes.

      Melissa

  13. Lauren B September 16, 2014 at 14:14 #

    This is a great blog! So much information! I LOVE Spanish food and will be trying your recipes. I’m not Spanish but I love learning the traditional prep of classic dishes. I actually bought Harina PAN today at the grocery store🙂 I have an arepa recipe I’m making tonight!

    • mwolowicz September 16, 2014 at 16:40 #

      Lauren,

      Thank you for visiting and following the blog, for following me on Twitter and for your comment. I read your blog and saw you are also in Florida. Could you share with the rest of the readers where in Florida did you find Harina PAN? If you end up making my recipe, please post back and comment on how did you like it, and and add a Photo if possible. There are several other recipes you can make with Harina PAN, so your package won’t go to waste. You can try some empanadas, sweet arepas (arepitas dulces), and/or hallaquitas/bollitos.

      ¡Buen Provecho!

      MW

      • Lauren B September 16, 2014 at 21:31 #

        Tonight I used the arepa recipe I usually use, which is in my Latin cookbook, but most recipes seem to be similar. I make a lot of Spanish dishes several times a month!

        I will make one of your recipes and post it on my site with reference to your recipe page, of course. I know arepas are well-known Venezuelan food, do you suggest another dish I can make? Something else classically Venezuelan.

        I live in central Florida, where Spanish specialty foods seem to be widely available. I actually got it at Target, but it’s also available at Publix. I can even get dried whole peppers here! One tip: if your local grocer doesn’t carry an item you want, ask them to. They can usually get it for you. That way you can have your Harina PAN HW!

        ¡Buen Provecho!

        Lauren

        • mwolowicz September 17, 2014 at 08:49 #

          Lauren,

          Thank you for your reply. The most traditional Venezuelan dish is the ‘Pabellón Criollo‘. You can find the recipe for it here in my blog and an explanation of how it came about to be our traditional dish. It takes quite some time, since you have to make rice, black beans, shredded beef and plantains, but it is worth it.

          All the other options I gave you on my previous comment are easier, but they are not considered the most traditional dishes. Either way, I hope you get to try one of my recipes sometime soon.

          MW

          • Lauren B September 17, 2014 at 10:02 #

            This looks delicious! And exactly the kind of dish we love to try. I have made pulled beef recipes from Cuba and Honduras, I will definitely make this version soon!

            ¡Gracias MW!

            Lauren

  14. Ileana October 23, 2014 at 23:54 #

    Meli! Today I read for the first time two or three of your post in yor blog. I simply loved them! Keep on doing this, it is great. Love you, Tía Ile

    • mwolowicz October 24, 2014 at 09:12 #

      Tía Ile,

      Thank you for visiting the blog I am glad you loved it. You should check out the Spanish Tortilla one, I mention coming over to your house and having it there as well as Pili’s grandmother making some for me at her place.

      Love you too!!!

  15. Carmen September 5, 2015 at 12:29 #

    Hi Melisa,
    What a gem of a blog you have here! I came across it trying to find apio to make crema de apio. I’ve read the whole thing and at times with teary eyes bringing back memories of our beautiful Venezuela… I’m going to share it with my daughters who sometimes call me to ask Mami how do you make…..? I love your recipes and pictures but most of all the step by step way you use to bring people to enjoy the food.
    Finally, I found a place I can tell my husband, from Syracuse, NY, to read about the food and it’s origin. His favorite are the empanadas de cazón y el jugo de parchita… He prepares tuna fish that tastes very similar to cazón and calls it cazón gringo! We live in kalamazoo, Michigan and I’m lucky enough to find most of the ingredients to cook our typical dishes.
    Awesome job kiddo! Keep it up and thanks again for sharing our delicious Venezuelan food.
    Dios te bendiga,
    Carmen
    Carmen

    • mwolowicz September 5, 2015 at 13:52 #

      Carmen,

      Thank you very much for your kind words and comment, and thank you for visiting the blog. Where you able to find some apio criollo venezolano up in Kalamazoo, Michigan? If so, please share with the rest of us where you found it.

      I hope your daughters like it as much as you did, so you can simply refer them to the blog whenever they ask you how to make something. I have a couple more delicious recipes coming up soon. I hope your husband enjoys the stories of the origins of each recipe as well…

      Empanadas de Cazón are one of my favorites too… I am still in the quest for cazón and I too make a version of ‘cazón gringo’ with tuna. I sauté a can of tuna in a pan with a little bit of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce… it’s the closest I can get to it tasting just a little bit like cazón. But I am not giving up in my quest to find it here. I wonder what your husband’s cazón gringo recipe is.

      Thank you again for the kind words, it is comments like yours that inspire me to keep the blog going, especially nowadays with so many Venezuelans leaving the country and finding themselves missing their people, their culture and of course… the food.

      Amen,

      MW

  16. Delma DeAnda April 6, 2016 at 10:07 #

    I visited Dallas and stop a restaurant not knowing what kind of food they served. I love arepas and their black beans and rice. Couldn’t fine a restaurant in ft wort so i did research online on how to make my own. I’ve been trying to fine harina P.A.N. or pre cooked maize flour. Haven’t had any luck.
    Does anyone have any information that would help me out?

  17. Elizabeth T. June 4, 2016 at 11:44 #

    Hello!

    I just found your blog while looking for a ‘platano horneado’ recipe. Loved both your recipes and your story… And we share the Ft. Lauderdale link!

    Keep up the good work, and keep your love for cooking.

    Saludos!

    • mwolowicz June 5, 2016 at 11:26 #

      Elizabeth,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and thank you for your comment. I am happy you enjoyed the platano horneado recipe. I hope you like the other ones as well.

      MW

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