My Ex Introduced Me to Arepas. They’re Now My Favorite Comfort Food.



The phrase “arepa” didn’t exist to me till three years in the past. My data of Latin American delicacies was restricted to the Mexican food of my California hometown. We’re identified for the La Victoria Taquerias and their particular orange sauce, however to me, the very best Mexican place is a cash-only stand with picnic desk seating serving classics like huge burritos, tacos, and quesadillas stuffed so full that they may as nicely be burritos. Rising up, I’d be hard-pressed to checklist meals from wherever additional south of the border.

Now, my accomplice and I pan-fry white cornmeal dough into little crispy disks and stuff them with salty, crumbly queso fresco and sautéed bell peppers not less than twice a month for a Colombian/Venezuelan-inspired dinner.

Oddly sufficient, this staple meal of ours is a relic of my earlier relationship. My ex’s Colombian-born mom used to make arepas for breakfast, and I found that the little corn pancakes occurred to be simply the suitable measurement for reheating within the toaster. They turned an prompt favourite and to this present day, stay my primary comfort food.

They’re my go-to when the world gained’t cease spinning lengthy sufficient for me to know the idea of filling my abdomen with something extra complicated.

For somebody whose consuming and psychological well being have all the time been inextricably linked, consolation meals are a necessity for me. It’s some extent of delight to only be capable of say I discover sure meals comforting, a notion that has not all the time come simple for me. I’ve been relearning how you can take pleasure in consuming since I used to be eleven years previous, when a mission to “eat wholesome” took a darkish flip and despatched me to the hospital with problems associated to anorexia.

In consuming dysfunction restoration, “secure meals” are the meals that stay after you’ve villainized all of the others. When you may’t carry your self to eat the rest, these choose meals might be there. As I’ve recovered, “secure” meals have advanced into consolation meals, like peanut butter and banana smoothies, cereal, and scrambled eggs for dinner. They’re for days of vacancy, days after I really feel overwhelmed and anxious. They’re my go-to when the world gained’t cease spinning lengthy sufficient for me to know the idea of filling my abdomen with something extra complicated. And now, that checklist contains arepas.

When my ex and I first moved in collectively, we each discovered that we had been consuming extra persistently than we ever had. Mmonths into residing collectively, I discovered myself unmotivated and apathetic. Anxiousness assaults pounced on me and took over with out purpose or warning.

We did not all the time perceive what the opposite wanted in these days, however my accomplice was reliable when it got here to creating dinner on the times when despair left my thoughts clean. “Scorching corn disk?” he’d ask (that’s what I had taken to calling them). “Scorching corn disk,” I’d reply, and we’d share a realizing smile.

Three components had been all we wanted for the savory pancake dinner: pre-cooked white cornmeal, water, and salt. For the longest time, I wasn’t precisely positive how you can recreate the arepas by myself as a result of he made them from reminiscence. There have been no measurements. He would merely warmth a small bowl of water within the microwave, combine it into a bigger bowl stuffed with cornmeal, and sprinkle in a touch of salt. After stirring all of it collectively till it resembled the creamiest Thanksgiving mashed potatoes that had been almost liquid, he kneaded the dough and left it to relaxation for a couple of minutes. The ultimate step was frying them till their yellowish coloration turned golden brown. To me, they smelled like connoisseur movie show popcorn—one of many many scents of nostalgia. Typically we slathered the arepas with my favourite vegan butter and fried some eggs alongside them for a extra well-rounded dinner.

However no quantity of consolation meals, not even arepas, may make things better.

The grief that adopted our seemingly inevitable breakup left no room for meals in my abdomen. Some days I hardly ate in any respect. My household feared I used to be relapsing, regardless of how a lot I attempted to elucidate that the despair made consuming irrelevant at greatest and inconceivable at worst. After I did begin consuming once more, it was purely emotional. I’d get dwelling from my all-day partial hospitalization program and swallow the unhappiness down with a parade of Hershey’s darkish chocolate kisses.

Two months after leaving the hospital program, I rejoined Bumble and reached out to a lady I had ghosted months earlier than. It turned out she was in consuming dysfunction restoration, too. We’ve been relationship for a 12 months now, and making arepas collectively for nearly simply as lengthy.

At first, I felt awkward telling her about my consolation meals. She’d had arepas within the farmers’ markets of Los Angeles, however by no means knew how simple they had been to make at dwelling. In fact, she was curious as to how I, a white girl with Italian and Swedish heritage, got here to make this Colombian dish part of my best hits checklist of recipes. Beginning any sentence with “My ex…” early on in any relationship is a daring and doubtlessly silly transfer.

Arepas are my factor as a lot as they’re my ex’s. He merely offered the introduction.

While you undergo a breakup, there are songs you need to ban out of your playlists and locations you may’t go with out feeling a lump catch in your throat. We connect so many issues to the reminiscence of somebody.

However after I make arepas now, the loss doesn’t hit me in the identical method. Arepas are my factor as a lot as they’re my ex’s. He merely offered the introduction. I didn’t even should name and ask for the recipe; it’s conveniently listed on the again of the cornmeal bag.

In my earlier relationship, I needed to be anybody however myself, as a result of to me, that was the one method I’d ever be sufficient. When it ended, I felt I had not solely misplaced myself, however every part. However now, I’ve reclaimed the issues which might be me and mine.

The silver lining was heat, spherical, and scrumptious.

What’s your go-to consolation meals? Tell us within the feedback under!


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