Eating and drinking

Food

There is excellent local fish (such as
pargo
or red snapper,
carite
or king fish), crayfish, small oysters and prawns. Although it is a protected species, turtle may appear on menus in the Península de Paraguaná as
ropa especial
. Of true Venezuelan food there is
sancocho
(vegetable stew with meat, chicken or fish);
arepas
, bland white maize bread; toasted
arepas
served with various fillings or the local salty white cheese, are cheap, filling and nutritious;
cachapas
, a maize pancake wrapped around white cheese;
pabellón
, of shredded meat, beans, rice and fried plantains; and
empanadas
, maize-flour pies of cheese, meat or fish. At Christmas there are
hallacas
, maize pancakes stuffed with chicken, pork, olives, boiled in a plantain leaf. A
muchacho
(boy) on the menu is a cut of beef.
Ganso
is not goose but beef.
Solomo
and
lomito
are other cuts of beef.
Hervido
is chicken or beef with vegetables.
Contorno
with a meat or fish dish is a choice of fried chips, boiled potatoes, rice or yuca.
Caraotas
are beans;
cachitos
are filled
croissants
.
Pasticho
is what Venezuelans call Italian lasagne. The main fruits are bananas, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, pineapple and pawpaws.
Lechosa
is papaya,
patilla
water melon,
parchita
passion fruit, and
cambur
a small banana. Excellent strawberries are grown at Colonia Tovar, 90 minutes from Caracas, and in the Andes. Delicious sweets are
huevos chimbos
, egg yolk boiled and bottled in sugar syrup, and
quesillo
, made with milk, egg and caramel. The
Daily Journal
lists reliable restaurants in Caracas and Maracaibo.
Note
: Venezuelans dine late!


As with lodging, eating out is, by South American standards, very expensive and locals hardly ever do so. Many restaurants are therefore empty and some are closing down. Some cities, like Puerto Ordaz, are notably costly. Midday used to be the cheapest time to eat and the best time to find fresh vegetables, but now many places offer only à la carte, quoting scarcity of supplies. In some places you can still find the three-course
menú ejecutivo
or
cubierto
, but it's increasingly rare. Hotel breakfasts are likely to be poor. It is better and cheaper in a
fuente de soda
and cheaper still in a
pastelería
or
arepería
.


Drink

Venezuelan rum is very good; recommended brands are
Cacique, Pampero
and
Santa Teresa.
There are five good beers:
Polar
(the most popular, sold as Polar and Ice, and Solera and Solera Light),
Regional
(strong flavour of hops),
Cardenal
and
Nacional
(a
lisa
is a glass of keg beer; for a bottle of beer ask for a
tercio
); Brazilian
Brahma
beer (lighter than
Polar
) is now brewed in Venezuela. There are also mineral waters and gin. There is a good local wine in Venezuela. The
Polar
brewery joined with Martell (France) to build a winery in Carora.
Bodegas Pomar
 also sells a champagne-style sparkling wine. Look out for Pomar wine festivals in March and September. Liqueurs are cheap, try the local
ponche crema
. Coffee is very cheap (
café con leche
is milky,
café marrón
much less so,
café negro
is black); it often has sugar already added, ask for “sin azúcar”. Try a
merengada
, a delicious drink made from fruit pulp, ice, milk and sugar; a
batido
is the same but with water and a little milk;
jugo
is the same but with water. A
plus-café
is an after-dinner liqueur. Water is free in restaurants even if no food is bought. Bottled water in
cervecerías
is often from the tap; no deception is intended, bottles are used as convenient jugs. Insist on seeing the bottle opened if you want mineral water.
Chicha de arroz
is a sweet drink made of milk, sugar and vanilla. Fruit juices are very good, ask for “jugo natural, preparado en el momento” for the freshest juice.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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