One of the first dishes I learned to make was arepas, which are essentially a grilled cornmeal cake native to Colombia, Venezuela and Panama. Arepas can be eaten many ways, but a traditional Colombian breakfast consists of arepas served with huevos pericos (Colombian scrambled eggs with tomato and scallion). Another preparation is to cut the arepa through the middle and stuff it with ingredients such as pork, avocado, queso fresco, pickled red onion, cilantro or whatever you’d like. Although the ingredients in an arepa are simple, there is a specific method to shaping the dough with your hands into a perfect, even circle. To this day I still cannot create one as perfect as my mother’s or grandmother’s.
I believe that for Hispanic communities, food is emotional. It is the root of some of the strongest bonds and warmest memories. Preparing and eating meals together, sharing stories and laughter, dancing Cumbia or Merengue—they’re all sources of our joy. Although food isn’t one of the traditional love languages, it absolutely is for us.