Venezuela’s Most Famous Arepa
La Reina Pepiada is the most famous arepa in Venezuela. It is said that the original receipt was a toasted arepa stuffed with a chicken “guiso” and then baked accompanied with avocados y petit pois.
Currently … establishments don’t serve the Reina in its actual receipt. The arepa now is stuffed with chicken salad, mayonnaise and avocados. Its creator is still alive. His name is Heriberto Alvarez; he’s 83 years old and is a native of Las Araujas a small population in Trujillo state. Heriberto says he cannot take the whole credit himself, he gives credit to his six sisters who have already passed and of course his mother. He says it all began when his dad died and his mother gather him and his sisters and moved to Caracas. She originally opened a little empanada kiosk. Their empanadas where so good that they were able to make enough money they were able to open another kiosk close the La Plaza Miranda. Here is where they first served the first tostada.
On opening day one morning in the month of October around 8:30 am their first customer Alfredo Sanchez walked in and asked … what is a “tostada” ? Heiberto explained that is how a stuffed arepa is called in Trujillo. Sanchez later became internationally known as Alfredo Sadel affectionately called "The Favorite Tenor of Venezuela".
In 1955 they opened Los Hermanos Alvarez in La Gran Avenida where Plaza Venezuela and Sabana grande meet. They were located right next to a very well known store named “Todo Paris”. Aquiles Nazoa, Oscar Yanes, Billo Frómeta, Abelardo Raidi & Renny Ottolina among others where loyal customers, that same year Susana Duijm became Miss World. In her honor they dressed up one of their nieces like a little princes and had her stand around the restaurant. One day a gentle that was passing by asked them “why is that little girl dressed up like a princess ?” They explain to this man that it was in honor to Miss World Susana Duijm. The gentleman happily smiles and said … I’m her father … I will bring her by one day.
Well, one Friday evening around 10:00 pm this gentleman as promised showed up with his daughter ... Susana Duijm. Heiberto himself handed to her a tostada and said … “my mother specially prepaired this arepa for you and in your honor we will call it La Reina as you are a reina indeed. She said thank you and enjoyed the arepa.
Heiberto said that in those days nice curvy women like Susana were called “pepiada” so they gave the tostada a first & last name. And that is how the most famous arepa in Venezuela got its name … La Reina Pepiada in honor of Susana Duijm ... Miss World 1955.
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