My parents were born in Caracas, Venezuela, a country characterized by much beauty and a rich culture that I wish I could personally experience. However, since I moved from Venezuela when I was no more than a year old, I have no memories of this lovely country of my origin and have not had the opportunity to return yet. Unfortunately, Venezuela was and currently is undergoing many problems in the government and the economy. My parents didn’t want to raise a family in such a dangerous place, but rather wanted me to have more opportunities in the U.S. The main dish in our household has always been arepas. This delicious Venezuelan cuisine is made from cornmeal that can be baked, fried, or even grilled and filled with anything you want, depending on the time of day. This simple dish means so much to me because it allows me to understand my roots from Venezuela and to hear stories from my mother about how she makes it, how my grandmother made it, and so on. Arepas are not only a type of food, but also a way for my family and I to get together to talk about my heritage. Even though I was born in Venezuela, I didn’t grasp the Spanish language as well as I’d hoped growing up. However, for the love of my culture and in order to learn more about and communicate better with my family, I practice Spanish as much as I can. Therefore, although during my childhood years it was hard conversing with my family, food always brought us together. Not only was I raised learning about my Venezuelan heritage, but also I experienced the great culture of New Orleans, the city I where I now live.
– Amanda Mancilla