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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Dinner Party 101

Just as I love cooking, the other thing I love to do is throw a dinner party.  I think this goes hand in hand with most cooks.  In my case this need comes from my Italian genes (and Latin upbringing) which I’m totally convince have a code within my DNA called “need to feed everyone around you now or die!.

It is a known fact that the Italians are very serious about their food. Why shouldn’t they be? After all it is the food that brings together friends and families. This is why we find the Italians to be very fond of spending long hours on the table and meal times expanding over the span of a couple of hours.

When the Italians sit down to eat they literally forget about the world and are in no hurry whatsoever to gobble down their food and get back to life.

And that is what I needed, to sit down and forget about the world, at least for a couple of hours. And the best way to do this is to surround myself with funny and smart individuals – enter my main “chicas”

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Galletas Maria Torte (Maria Biscuits)

The desert above is another of my childhood favorites.  

I’m on a roll with these memories guys - I cannot seem to stop them.

This time, the recipe is not from my grandmother’s or my mother’s but, from another important person in my life while growing up – my nanny, Maria.

Just like any country, Venezuela has its share of local desserts that are very uncommonly found anywhere else but there.  And this “cake” or “torte” is precisely that.  Even after all of my travels I have yet to find something like this.

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