Chef of the Month: The Birthplace of Chef George Duran

Chef George DuranChef George Duran is from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. The country itself is located on the northern coast of South America and has an area of 912,050 km², a little more than twice the size of California. It is bordered by 3 countries: Colombia, Guyana and Brazil.

Here are some Facts about Venezuela taken from CNN.com:

The country’s formal name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and is one of the oldest democracies in South America. It is highly dependent on oil, which accounts for 95% of export earnings and 12% of GDP and is one of the world’s top 10 oil exporting countries, according to the Energy Information Administration. Baseball is the most popular sport in the country.

Population: 28,458,085 (July 2013 estimate)venezuela_flag

Capital: Caracas

Ethnic Groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African and indigenous groupsVenezuela Baseball

Official Language: Spanish but there are numerous indigenous dialects

Industries: agricultural products, livestock, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products, and fuel

Money: Bolivar

Sports: Baseball, Basketball and Soccer

True Nomads “10 Interesting Facts About Venezuela” revealed some other fascinating facts:

Venezuela was one of the founding members of OPEC, along with Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The term Venezuela literally means ‘Little Venice’. The country was so named by its explorers, who saw houses built on stilts in a lake here, reminding them of Venice.

Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world.

Venezuela has more Miss Universes and more Miss Worlds than any other country.

Countries with the most Miss Universe Winners

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Venezuelan cuisine finds its roots from a lot of European influences specifically Italian, Spanish and French.  According to Venezuelan Cooking, the “Pabellón Criollo” is the most traditional Venezuelan dish after the Arepas. Pabellón is a word for “pavilion”, but it can also mean the national flag, an ensign, or even a tent.   The Pabellón Criollo, the traditional Venezuelan dish is made up of shredded (or pulled) beef, black beans, rice and fried plantains, as the most basic version of it.   Some people, depending on the part of the country, also add a plain arepa on the side, some avocadoes, some delicious grated white cheese and even a fried egg.  When fried plantains are added, it is known as the “Pabellón con Baranda”. This dish is their National Dish and you can find this tasty recipe below.

Main Components for Pabellón Criollo:

– Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

– Caraotas Negras (Venezuelan Black Beans)

– Arroz Blanco (Venezuelan White Rice)

– Tajadas (Venezuelan Fried Plantains)Pabellon Criollo

Preparation:

1. Make sure you soak the black beans overnight!

2. Prepare the shredded/pulled beef first, as this will take the longest to cook (4 hours).

3. When the beef has been cooking for about 1½ to 2 hours already, begin to cook the black beans (this will take 2 hours).

4. Proceed to remove the beef from the boiling water.  Shred/pull the beef and continue cooking as directed on the recipe (adding the sofrito and stir frying it).

5. Proceed to finish the black beans recipe as well.

6. Set the beef and beans aside, and begin cooking the rice.

7. Make the plantains while the rice is cooking.

8. Finish the rice and the plantains.

9. Serve all together.

Do we have any Venezuelans in the house? Would love to hear about your favorite Venezuelan dishes or fun childhood memories!

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