Food Makes the World Go ‘Round!
A recipe for Cheese Empanadas and a visit to El Arepaso Venezuelan Cafe
by Morgan Mosburg
Have you ever wanted to be an explorer? I know right now it would be hard to do it, and your holiday travel plans may be postponed. But it’s not impossible. Join me and my Girl Scout Troop 1510 to explore the world through your kitchen!
Our troop is working on our Silver Award, and we have partnered with TulsaKids to share knowledge about many wonderful cultures and kid-friendly cuisine. Plus, we want to support some local family-owned restaurants that might be struggling due to the pandemic. We are going to publish a series of blog posts in which we try interesting foods so we can travel by taste and learn about the world around us.
Have you or any of your family watched the animated Disney movie called “Up”? If you did, do you recall the destination of Paradise Falls? These falls were based on a real place in a country we are going to tell you about today. This place is called Angel Falls. Do you know the country in which it is located? I’ll give you some clues. This country is close to twice the size of California and is the 33rd largest country. It is in South America. One of their main exports is crude oil. One of its next-door neighbors is Brazil. If you said Venezuela, congratulations, you are correct!
Venezuela: Facts and Culture
An interesting fact is that Venezuela has a lot of gas, but there is not a lot sold in Venezuela. It can take people several days to get gasoline in their car. The language spoken in Venezuela is Castilian Spanish. A popular holiday that some people celebrate is Carnival in February with water balloon fights, music and dancing in the street and just having a good time.
Did you know that the U.S. is about 11 times bigger than Venezuela? The distance from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Venezuela is 2,768 miles. Venezuela’s geography is very diverse and spans from sea level to La Columna (or Bolivar Peak), which is 16,332 feet.
El Arepaso Venezuelan Cafe
We would like to introduce you to El Arepaso Venezuelan Cafe, a Tulsa family-owned Venezuelan restaurant located at 8036 S. Yale Ave. All of the dishes on their normal menu are common foods that people in Venezuela may eat on a daily basis. But they also have a holiday menu around this time, which includes a Christmas plate that that has pork, chicken salad, jamon (a type of yummy ham bread), and hallacas (Venezuelan tamales).
El Arepaso also often has special, off-menu items on the weekends like soups and beef stew. Specials are shared on Facebook and their website.
Meet the Owners
The owners of this restaurant are Elena Hart and her mother. They opened the restaurant because Elena’s grandmother had owned a restaurant in Venezuela, and her mother wanted to do the same in the U.S. They’ve lived here for over 10 years but opened the restaurant about a year ago. Elena was born in Venezuela and came to the U.S. at a young age because her dad had a job in Tulsa. Their family lived in Anzoátegui, which is off the northern coast of Venezuela.
Arepaso is a play on words for arepa, a traditional Venezuelan cornbread.
Favorites From El Arepaso Venezuelan Cafe
We had the great opportunity to try several of their comfort foods, and boy, were they delicious. We knew as soon as we split open the freshly-made empanada and the gooey cheese center stretched as long as my arm, that this week’s recipe would be a keeper! The lovely sauces also made each bite a tasty treasure. Once you try this, you will want to place your order immediately for an in-person visit, carryout, or GrubHub delivery.
Don’t forget to try Elena’s favorite item on the menu, which is the Pabellon Arepa, a cornmeal sandwich with cheese, shredded beef, black beans, and plantains. My family’s favorite was the Cachapa Con Queso and the Pepito (which can often be found as a street food). We highly recommend that you save room for their interesting drinks and delectable desserts too! And please do us a favor and also tell Elena “Hola” (hello in Spanish) and that Troop 1510 sent you.
Today’s Recipe: Cheese Empanadas
This recipe is egg-free and gluten-free (based on the cornmeal you use). It also contains dairy products. It makes 2 servings of Cheese Empanadas (each serving is 2 empanadas).
- 2 cups of cornmeal (Harina Pan brand)
- ½ to 1 cup cold water
- Pinch of salt (to taste)
- 1 cup of mozzarella cheese (although any personal preference works)
In a large container, mix cornmeal with the cold water a little bit at a time with the pinch of salt until it becomes a consistency of a playdoh ball.
Smash it into a pancake between two plastic sheets to make it thin and round.
Put the cheese in the center of the empanada.
Fold the pancake over the cheese.
Place a circular container that is the size you want over the dough. Press it down to form a half-moon and pinch around the sides to make sure it is closed.
Deep fry the empanada in oil that is 375 degrees. (Make sure that it is fully emerged until it is golden and sturdy.)
Pull it out and let it cool.
Plate, serve and enjoy the crisp outside and the stringy, gooey, delicious cheese!
Buen Provencho! (Good eating in Venezuelan)
Be sure to visit our troop (pictured below: Kaylee, Elena (the chef), Morgan, Mariamu, and Madison) again here soon and meet the other girls in my troop as they share the world! We are also working on setting up a Youtube channel to share our visits with the chef.
About Morgan Mosburg
Hi! I’m Morgan Mosburg and I’m 14 years old and have been with Troop 1510 since I was 5 as a Daisy. I like learning about different cultures, cooking and helping people in my community. I also enjoy playing my violin, golf, and archery. And I adore my poodle mix, Toto.