Feast in Costa Rica

Authors: Bela Voglund, Isabella Ledesma, Priest Muniz, Anna Gaier, Wren Murzyn

Photographs by Indigo Werner-Salsbury and Lucille Glassman

Arepas: The Pancake of Costa Rica 


         In Spanish, the word arepa translates into corn (masa) pancake. The history of the arepa is very long. Its origins start more than hundreds of years ago, with indigenous tribes across Central and South America. Specifically, Venezuelan and Columbian tribes made arepas to travel with because they were small and had lots of protein and nutrients. Initially, arepas had fillings and were called tostadas. The arepas that we made on our trip were flavored with banana. We like this variation because it adds a lot to the flavor and adds to the texture. Like with sandwiches, the fillings you can put in arepas are endless. 


Interview with the Chef  

Student: What are we making today? 
Chef: Arepas: they are a pancake-like bread that goes well with lots of other dishes. 

Student: Cool. What is the significance of this dish to your culture and history? 

Chef: The arepa has a long history with my people and we make the arepa all the time. 

Student: Why is it such a good food? 

Chef: You can add the arepa to almost any dish we make here. It is kind of like a roll, because you can meld it with lots of other foods.

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Significance of Culture and History

You have learned that the arepa is a popular food in Costa Rica. It has a lot of carbohydrates, protein, and flavor. This treat is a very good food for a sack lunch, on the go, or a sit-down meal with your family.

Arepas are one of the most popular foods in Latin America. They are served in almost every home in Latin America (they are equivalent to tortillas in Mexico and bread in Italy). Every region has a different version of arepas. Arepas are used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. People often use arepas as a full meal. Arepas can basically be anywhere in Costa Rica depending on what you have for your meals.  

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¼ cup milk 

1 banana (optional) 

½ stick butter 

spoonful of vanilla 

2 small spoonfuls of baking powder 

1 egg 

4 ½ cups flour 


  1. Mix all of these ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Turn stove on to medium heat.
  3. Dip a big spoon into the mix and extract a blow from it to put on the skillet.
  4. Wait until lightly browned to flip.