February 3, 2023

Arepas from ‘Encanto’ are a Colombian staple

4 min read

(CNN) – Mirabel Madrigal says to her mother Julieta in the movie “Ancanto”, “You just fixed my hand with an arpa con koso, holding a happy eripa – a round corn cake.

“I lovingly fixed your hand,” Julieta replied.

“Encanto”, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature this year, follows the magical Madrigal family, which has all the superpowers except Mirabelle. While the film’s themes are based on family and love, its roots are embedded in Colombian culture, including the promotion of eripa as an integral part of its diet.

Chef and co-owner Carmen Engel said, “It’s like a complete casual meal, even though it’s part of the daily diet, and it’s very much part of our daily culture.” Carmen Restaurant In Cartagena and Madeleine, Colombia.
According to Alejandro Osorio, co-owner of a New York City-based restaurant, aripas are what Colombians consider their bread. Arepa Lady, Located in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Traditional cakes are eaten throughout the day, and while they can be prepared in a variety of ways, their main ingredient is aripas cornmeal.

Corn has undergone naxalization, which is to remove the hard outer shell of corn using lime water. After the corn has softened, it is ground into a thin paste by adding a pinch of salt to the flour, which is then grilled into coals, Engel said.

The type of erypa you eat depends on the type of corn used, what is added to the batter, and the area of ​​Colombia where the recipe comes from.

A sweet aripa, called aripa de chocolo, is made from fresh sweet corn. At restaurants like Arepa Lady, Osorio said, these areapas can then be served with butter and cheese, or the meat can be added inside on request. The dining area also serves arepas de queso, as eaten by Mirabelle in “Encanto”, which is made with mozzarella inside the batter.

On the coast of Colombia, locals fry an arepa in an egg, Osorio said. In Madeleine, Osorio’s hometown, the dish is often sold as street food, served as a topping with condensed milk.

According to Angel, Arpa’s talent is indicative of how accessible it is to all types of Colombians. He added that many of its variations also show how local food-related dishes are thriving amidst modern food adaptations.

“I think airports are like the kind of food that every Colombian still eats on a daily basis, regardless of their (socio-economic) status, where they live, regardless of whether they What religion do you belong to, “said the angel.

The power of healing

Apart from being culturally related, aripas are also a source of nutritional benefits, as they contain vitamins C and A. These two essential nutrients help boost immunity and eye health, according to Andy Lee Gonzalez, a registered nutritionist based in Palm View, Texas. He added that vitamin C provides antioxidants and builds up immunity, while vitamin A promotes retinal health and eyesight.

One serving of Arepa will contain approximately 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates, so Gonzalez recommends adding vegetables, a low-fat diary or a lean source of protein to make Arepa a balanced diet.

Although airplanes can’t heal a wound in someone’s hand, as in “Incanto,” Gonzalez said the film’s message about the dish lies in the fact that “important foods in our cultures are part of our lives.”

Joint, an Areppa containing beef, beans, sweet plantain and cheese, especially at Sisi's Arepa Joint in East Meadow, New York.

Joint, an Areppa containing beef, beans, sweet plantain and cheese, especially at Sisi’s Arepa Joint in East Meadow, New York.

Rachel Brightman / Newsday RM / Getty Images

“When I saw that piece of film, it really showed how our Spanish and Latin communities, we use food to heal the soul,” said Gonzalez.

Aripas de Quiso

(Colombian cheese aripas)

You can make your own cheese aripas by following the recipe of Chef Carmen Engel. Angel uses Colombian quiso pipe, but mozzarella is a great alternative. Try Ariapas for breakfast, with scrambled eggs for breakfast, or top piles with your favorite toppings (like avocado, coriander, grilled chicken and tomatoes) for a Colombian-inspired lunch.

Makes 6 arepas.

Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes


* 1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

* 1/3 cup warm water

* 1/3 cup milk

• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, and more for pan

• 1 cup ground mozzarella (or any other melting, semi-hard cheese such as gruyere or fontina)

مزید More cheese to melt inside the arepa (optional)


1. In a medium bowl, mix cornmeal with salt and warm water, and using your hands, mix to make a paste.

2. Add milk and keep mixing.

3. Knead 3 tablespoons in butter, mix well and then add 1 cup cheese and mix.

4. Preheat a large pan over medium heat.

5. Divide the mass into 6 “patties” or discs, using both hands to make sure the discs are even and not more than 3 inches thick.

6. Add a pinch of butter to the pan and toss around to coat the bottom of the pan.

7. Cook the aripas on each side for 5 to 6 minutes or until they are nice and brown. Remove from heat.

8. If desired, using a knife, carefully open the airpass while it is still warm and fill with more cheese of your choice. To melt the extra cheese, place the stuffed arepas in the toaster oven or return to the skeleton over low heat.

Prescription courtesy of Carmen Engel of Carmen Restaurant Group in Colombia.

Top Caption: Chef prepares Arepa on January 27, 2022, in the kitchen of Arepa Lady Restaurant in Queensborough, New York City.

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