Mandocas - Sweet Corn Fritters

When I was 8 years old my mother sent my sister and I to live with our paternal grandparents.  She was coming to the states to prepare our arrival and she decided that our grandparents should spend some time with us before we moved to the United States.

My grandparents lived in the state of Zulia, which is located in the northwest of Venezuela, around the Marcaibo Lake.  This lake is the largest water body of its kind in Latin America and its basin covers one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere.

Maracaibo is the state capital and it has the second (Caracas being the first) largest population among Venezuela states.  Like any country, each state is known for their own individual personality. Maracuchos (the population of Maracaibo) as they are referred, are loud, talk fast and everyone cuss like sailors – and I mean everyone, toddlers to gradmas.

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Cachapas - Fresh Corn Pancakes

Cachapas are thick, tasty pancakes made from maize (sweetcorn) and served with a slab of white cheese called “queso de mano” (hand cheese).  These steaming pancakes are then topped with lashing of margarine, a thick slap of cheese, a pork chop and some chicarron, (fried pork rinds) and washed down with a cold Polarcita (beer).

Cachapas are an integral part of Venezuela’s culinary history and their origin dates back to pre-Colombian times, when the indigenous population would grind corn with stone pestles and then cook it cachapa-style on clay budares, flat griddle plates that have been found in archaeological digs at many sites in Venezuela.

When I was young, Cachapas could only be found in my home state – Bolivar. If that was not enough of a challenge, they were only made by locals in stalls with a tin-roof on the side of the “carretera” (roads) on the way to la Gran Sabana.  Most will be grilling chochino (pork) and making fresh Cachapas topped with freshly made queso de mano.

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Bombolini filled with Vanilla Cream

Yes, this is a double whammy because you are getting another donut post.  After Tom laid praises on the Sweet Potato Donuts, I made the mistake of telling him, that the Bombolini would have been ten times better and he totally dared me to prove it.

He knows I cannot resist dates.  And I totally fell for it too.

I still stand behind my statement before that donuts are not one of my favorite sweets.  But the Bombolini holds a special place in my taste memory.

See, I have been eating these pillows of fried dough, filled with cream, since I can remember. In Venezuela, my mother would buy a big bag of them as a special treat from our local bakery as I was growing up.  My sister and I would gobble them up in seconds, licking our sugar-coated fingers and then wait patiently for the next special occasion to have them.

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