One of my favorite street foods in Bogota, Colombia was also one of the most ubiquitous: Arepas.
For those unfamiliar with what an arepa is (as I was before my arrival in Bogota), it’s basically a patty made of cornmeal.Â It’s slightly wider than an english muffin but slightly thinner.Â An arepa could certainly be made that is “plain”, i.e. with no fillings, but that is rare. A “standard” arepa sold on the street is usually stuffed with cheese that is mixed in with the cornmeal.Â Sometimes street arepas are used to form “buns” and the center is filled with shredded pork, beef or a hamburger patty (see the arepas on the back of the grill in my picture).
A standard arepa sells for 500 Colombian pesos on the street, or approximately $.25 in US dollars. After eating one arepa I was hooked, and made it a frequent purchase during my stay. So what is the secret to an arepa’s deliciousness? In short: butter. Lots and lots of butter. The cornmeal patty is slathered in butter before it’s put on the grill, and the vendor will usually smear another pat of butter across the top after removing it from the grill. A street arepa is typically served to you on a sheet of wax paper, and most vendors have condiments such as honey, powdered sugar or ketchup available for you to add on top.
If you ever find yourself on the streets of Bogota, you can’t get much better, tastier street food than an arepa. Yum.