Tag Archives: Santex people

Cooking for fun

Our Santex Team Member, Juan Giacosa, tells us about his passion for cooking and preparing meals for his family and friends.

How old were you when you started cooking?

I don’t remember exactly. I know that I started to become more interested in cooking when  I was 17 and had to move to Cordoba.  At my family’s house, my mom was the cook, so I would only prepare food  if she was not around.

What motivated you to start cooking?

The need to feed myself haha. As I said, I was all by myself in Cordoba and  had to take on new responsibilities. As I enjoy eating a good meal, I decided to start doing some research about food preparation and recipes and gave it a try. That Was When I found out that It was not that complicated and decided to start cooking recipes that involved better and more complex techniques.

Have you studied or taken cooking courses?

No, I’ve never studied anything related to cooking in a “professional” way. Everything I know  Is due to practice and reading on web pages and cookbooks.

Do you have a dish that you like to prepare?

More than a dish, I really like to prepare and bake doughs…namely bread, pizza, pasta, croissants, etc. I also love roasting and grilling meat, and recently I’ve grown interest in using vegetables on my dishes.

What do you like most about cooking?

What I enjoy most about cooking is that it allows me to prepare delicious food for the people I love and see them enjoy it. There’s no greater satisfaction for me than knowing they like what I’ve prepared. For me, food is a way of showing appreciation and gratitude. It’s a way of saying “thank you” or “I love you”.

Do you cook only as a hobby or do you plan to carry out a project around the cuisine?

For the time being I only cook for friends, family or acquaintances.I plan on taking my chances in the field at some point in life. It could be managing a food store or opening my house to host culinary events for locals, strangers, friends and whoever finds out about it haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BICYCLE DIARIES

We were talking to Leonel Romero about his magnificent experiences traveling by bicycle. He told us how his desire to cycle began and the places he has visited.

 

  • How did your interest in traveling begin?

I think I always had it. To visit new and unexplored places and meet new people have always been my favorite things.

Over time (and traveling), I began to understand that traveling is not just about getting away from your routine for a vacation. I know that vacations are the most common trip because most people do not have time or money, or don’t feel comfortable due to safety. Traveling is more a learning experience and an exchange of cultures,  that generates a deeper knowledge of oneself.

  • At what age did you start traveling and what inspired or pushed you to do it?

My first trips were on family vacations, always in Cordoba and sometimes to the Argentine coast or Mendoza to visit family.

As a cyclist or bicycle traveler, I started in 2015. I was 25 years old when I was in Europe for a trip organized by AVEIT, a student organization of the UTN of Córdoba that aims to do a study/tourism trip at the end of the engineering degree. I went to Croatia with a friend and went into a very large sports equipment shop and we bought everything necessary to start what would be my first “adventure”. That time we went from Croatia to Turkey by bike, passing through Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, Greece, and Bulgaria.

  • Have you ever been in a dangerous situation during a trip?

In regards to security, I think the perception of danger depends on the person. You could be robbed in Cordoba or you could be in a “dangerous” place and nothing happens.

I was robbed twice in Colombia. The first time was an assault on the street in a very touristy place because of being careless. The second time a truck gave us a lift because we were in a very hot region and we did not want to keep going.  We put our bikes on top of the truck. After a while I saw a trainer up there: a guy of about 20 had climbed on top and was sitting there quietly. We continued traveling but were aware of our the unknown travel companion. After 5 minutes I saw him opening a bag so I told the driver and we stopped. The driver got out with a baseball bat and started screaming at the boy. The boy had nothing with him, not even a backpack, or our belongings, so we thought he hadn’t stolen anything and we let him go. He crossed the road in the middle of the field and a motorbike appeared that picked him up and they left.

The we realized, that he had thrown things onto the road and then collected them after. Luckily, we didn’t lose anything important.

  • Which places have you visited and which one did you like most

By bike, I have visited Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

I can’t decide which one I like the most, everywhere has it’s benefits.

  • What advice would you give to someone who want to start traveling by bike?

Don’t be afraid or listen to what they say on TV. Just go out to fulfill your dreams. No matter how cliché it seems, people have to stop saying that they want to do something and just do it!

Humor and Stand Up!

Our Santex Team Member, Andy Palacios, tells us about his experience doing Stand Up perfomances.

  • Why and how did you come up with the idea of doing stand-up?

I am always saying silly things, and many friends asked me to do or dedicate myself to putting together monologues of the stories that I told them. It was very common in my previous jobs to tell my colleagues something that had happened to me on the weekend and it made everyone laugh. Someone always says to me “Please Andy, dedicate yourself to this…leave the IT world!”. This tells me two things, either I am a very good humorist or I am a very bad QA hahaha.

  • What is humor to you?

Humor means so much to me. I find it really difficult to relate with someone without humor between us. But beyond that, it seems very important to me to be able to face difficult moments with humor. I’ve always said that no matter how difficult or ugly some moment in your life is, it will always become a good anecdote.  

  • Which are your favourite topics for the stand up shows?

Usually, I talk about things that happen to me, or that I see in my day to day life. Also I talk about things that happen to people that are close to me. Some people tell me an anecdote and in the show I exaggerate it or invent details which are a little more unusual.

What I don’t like is being rude, although sometimes I use it, it’s only so that the language sounds natural like when I talk to my friends. Also, I don’t like to attack anyone, I only try to talk about things that could happen to any of us.

  • Do you remember how your first show went? How did it go?

It was recent, in February…so I remember it really well! It was at the end of a Stand Up workshop that I did. The idea was that at the end of that workshop we would go to a bar and do the show. I was really excited, but never afraid or nervous. I visualized that nothing bad would come of it. The truth is that the experience exceeded my expectations.

  • What are the best and worst things that have happened to you on stage?

The best thing was the surprise I had when I realized that there were people who enjoyed what I was doing. The truth is that I still have very little experience to have had something really bad happen to me. The only thing I can say is that is very difficult to perform the show when half of the public is distracted and talks or makes noises.

  • Do you admire a comedian? Who and why?

Although I’ve seen very few live shows, I really like Fernando Sanjiao, Sebastian Weinraich, Luciano Mellera, Fernanda Mettili from Argentina. The best international performers are Aziz Ansari, Dane Cook, Iliza Shlesinger, among others.

Coder + Gamer

Mario Luna tells Santex how creating video games is the perfect combination of all of the things that he loves.

Tell us how you first got interested in developing video games?

Video games have almost alway been part of my life. When I was 9 years, the idea of creating a video game came to me. I was looking for some programs that could help me create a game, and I found some good tools, but didn’t know how to use them.

Later, when I was 14, I started to learn video and image editing. Then, I studied 3D editing and music composition. At the age of 17, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to some of these skills, but I couldn’t decide between them. The only place where all of those aspects converge is in video games. I went back to the beginning, but this time with more knowledge than before. I learned to program on my own and noticed that I liked it above all the other skills I’d learned. Since then, I have been slowly investigating the process of developing video games.

Today, at the age of 20, I am in the last year of my degree as a computer analyst with the intention of dedicating myself fully to video game development once I graduate.

What were your favorite games in the past? Was there one in particular that will call your attention the most and inspired you to start developing video games?

It’s impossible to choose only one, or even a few video games! I loved so many, but my favorite genre is FPS (First Person Shooter). Ones that I can mention are Call of Duty 4, Half-Life, Serious Sam 2, Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead, among others. I also liked strategy games a lot, like Commandos, Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. Many of them I played in multiplayer with friends when I was younger.

A game that drew my attention was Bionic Commando when I was 9 years old. It’s an FPS with a mechanic that allows you to fly through the cities (or rather swing). When I played it, I wanted to be able to create a game with esthetic and/or similar mechanics and it led me to research how to do it. I think that thanks to that game, I love post-apocalyptic esthetics in video games or movies.

What do you like most as a player? As a developer?

As a player, I love a good story as well as a great narrative. I think that although it isn’t everything, a big part of the experience when playing is being able to tell a story that can distract you from the real world and immerse yourself in the game, creating the abstract of a great adventure.

Another thing that I like is the atmosphere of a game. It is not the same to make a horror game with strong light and shades of pink everywhere as it is a dark setting in an abandoned place where the player does not know where the danger might come from.

As a developer, I like the fact that I can tell a story by letting the player experience it as something that he, by himself, performs, and not as something told or seen, such as in a book or a movie.

Are you working on any gaming projects currently? If so, what?

I am currently doing the sketches and beginnings of a clone of the old Arkanoid. Long ago, I liked the series of mobile games called Block Breaker. I was a little disappointed when I found out that there are no titles for the most current platforms. That’s why I want to develop my own version of the game as a tribute. It’s a small project, but it’s pretty good to start with. This would be the first game I develop by myself, which I hope to see finished completely.

It is something new in a certain sense because so far, my experience has not gone much further than simple prototypes, so I am excited about being able to call this a game made on my own.

How long do you take to develop a video game? Is one person required?

A video game is composed of: programming, 2D digital art, sound effects, music, 3D, animations, script, lighting, conceptual art, level design, post-processing effects, platform and OS configuration, optimization, marketing, licenses, patents, publications, etc.

A person can do all this on their own, but it depends on several factors, such as the person’s ability, the size of the project, the budget among others. Some projects can take years and others only months, but as a rule, one person cannot or should not take charge of a project alone, because the benefits of being surrounded by a team are many.

To conclude, what do you think would be the biggest challenge when developing video games?

Almost since its inception, the video game industry has never stopped growing. Today there are hundreds of free tools available to developers, which has led in recent years to the creation of thousands of “indie” video game companies. These video games don’t depend on a big distributor like EA Games to position themselves, because with some marketing strategies and distributors like Google play or Steam, they can be published at a very low cost.

The massification of video games is good because it provides a greater amount of games on the market, but on the other hand, it prevents games that deserve greater recognition from being seen and judged as they should.

The biggest challenge for any new software developer is to ensure that their video game is seen and played by a large number of people, including competitors. The success that it has depends largely on this, because a game that does not become known, even if it’s a great title, is considered a failure. There are ways to counteract this, such as showing the video game to the community during its development phases, to determine how much expectation or “hype” the game has, as well as feedback on what features people would like to see in the game.

Marketing strategies are usually forgotten by independent developers, but they are very important for the positioning of a title in the industry.

 

Music that Moves You

Maria Alejandra Diaz tells us about her experience playing the cello in her homeland of Venezuela, and the hopes she has for the future in her new home, Peru.

What made you decide to study music? Was it a personal decision or something your parents made you do?

Honestly, ever since I was little I’ve been very interested in the fine arts. First it was ballet and contemporary dance. Later I took up painting. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve entered the world of what is known in Venezuela – and internationally – as  “El Sistema,” which was founded by maestro Jose Antonio Abreu. His main objective has been to broaden the horizons – culturally and musically – of the country and get the youth interested in music.

My parents were always the first ones to support me in any initiative I may have had surrounding my curiosity for the fine arts. They supported me in developing other skills not just related to academia, although the decision was always mine to pursue such activities. They encouraged me to stick with such activities and not just abandon them further down the road.

Why the cello and not something else? Did you ever consider pursuing other instruments as well?

At first, I was most interested in the violin. My dad took me to see the Children’s Orchestra of Tachira, which is the province of Venezuela where I’m from, so that I could get a better idea of what instruments caught my attention. From that moment on, I decided I wanted to learn to play the violin.

Later, I auditioned for the Youth Orchestra Foundation “Luis Gilberto Mendoza” which was the base from which El Sistema operated. They evaluated aptitude for rhythm and solfege which is the fundamental basis for every musician. They loan out instruments and let you use their facilities until you can raise enough money to buy your own instrument.

When they asked me which instrument I wanted to play, they told me that there were no violins available to loan out, and they only had cellos and trumpets available. Of course, the trumpet was never to my liking, with the mouthpieces and parting of the lips and everything, and therefore I stayed with the cello, which was the best decision I could have made. It is an instrument with a unique sound and accompaniment and is – according to expert opinions – the sound that most resembles the human voice.

Are there musicians in your family?

My great-grandfather, on my mom’s side, had an orchestra called “Filo Rodríguez y Su Orquesta” in the 1940s. He was a trumpeter and the director. One of his sister’s was also an opera singer in a circus in Italy during the same time. My mother played piano, my father participated in the Christmas masses in choirs and playing, and my sister is an opera singer (Mezzo-soprano).

How old were you when you performed at your first recital? Where was it?

They usually recommend that you start studying music at an early age, not only because it’s common knowledge that children pick up new skills more easily, but above all because of the muscle memory that comes with studying string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass). Starting early helps your fingers develop accordingly. For example, for the case of the violin, it is best that players have thin, not so large fingers. In my case, I started at 14 years old, and I had my debut 3 months after starting at the Pre-Children’s Orchestra in San Cristóbal – Táchira State.  This was, of course, very ironic because of my age, but it was the group that It started at the same time that I entered “the system” and it was for ages 8 to 12. There was already a Children’s Orchestra, so we could not call ourselves the same thing or play the same pieces as them because of the level of difficulty .

Then I moved quickly to the Children’s Orchestra and then to the Youth Orchestra. It was in the latter that I had the opportunity to play as a guest on 2 occasions with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Táchira. A year and a half later, I formally joined that orchestra.

With the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, I had the opportunity to be a soloist and play with musicians of international renown – such as violist Frank Di Polo, pianist Arnaldo Pizzolante, and guitarist Alirio Díaz, among others.

Who are some musicians (past or present) that you admire?

Among the musicians that I admire most are Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-Yo Ma. With rock, I like Apocalyptica, which is a symphonic metal band formed by 4 cellists graduated from a classical music academy called Sibelius. In the beginning, they covered Metallica songs which then made them famous. Also, 2cellos is a duo of Croatian cellists who make versions of songs by Michael Jackson, Guns and Roses, Jimi Hendrix, and more. It’s really fun to listen to them.

How much time do you dedicate to practicing cello?

In Venezuela, I devoted every afternoon to studying and practicing cello. The Foundation had an academic center where they teach classes in rhythm, theory and solfege, harmony and then classes related to each specific instrument taught by a professional – usually members of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. All of these classes were distributed throughout the week.

In addition to the classes, there were also rehearsals with the Orchestra, which were everyday, Monday through Friday from 6pm to 9 or 10 at night, depending on the difficulty of the work and the time needed to rehearse. If they were complicated pieces to execute, each leader who was a kind of representative of the group of musicians for a particular instrument, would host additional workshops to go in depth and see the synchronization, harmony, solos, and tuning.

It really was a full-time commitment. But when you like what you do, you’re not aware of how much time it takes.

Do you have plans for the future with regard to music?

Since I moved to Peru, I have not been able to continue with music because when I left the country, I didn’t know where I was going to settle down. Also because of economic issues, I had to sell my cello in Venezuela to help my mother with medical treatment. I’ve been checking with friends who still belong to El Sistema to find out if there are organizations like the ones there which can help me with loaning a cello while I save to buy my own, and also where I could resume my classes. In the near future, I hope to belong to another orchestra and continue enjoying this most beautiful form of art.

May The Force Be With You

We noticed that we have quite a few Star Wars fans at Santex, so we asked a few of them to tell us more about why they love it so much!

What was the first Star Wars movie you ever saw? How old were you?

Gabriela Chaves: Return of the Jedi. I don’t remember well how old I was, but I must have been like 6 years old. I’ve had a taste for science fiction since I was little.

Martin Navarro: Episode IV A New Hope — I must have seen it without even wanting to when I was 6 or 7 years old on an air channel. I was very curious about it. I don’t know what it was that initially caught my attention and attracted me to it, but since that time it’s left me thinking and wanting more. I watch the movies whenever I can.

Lorenzo Sauchelli: Star Wars. I was about five years old. One of my dad’s best friends had a movie club and he brought the original movie for me to watch.

Andres Palacio: When I was a kid, I watched Episode 4, but it didn’t really catch my attention. When I was in high school, I saw Episode 2 and then I started to like it. When Episode 3 came out, that’s when I got hooked on the saga and I saw all the complete movies and even some storylines that go beyond the movies.

Eduardo Nieto: I saw the first Star Wars movie on national television when I was approximately 7 years old. In those times, Channel 2 in Peru had a block called “Función Estelar,” and they played movies during family time. I remember seeing the 3 original Star Wars movies that way.

Pablo Johnson: I remember seeing parts of Episode 5 or 6 when I was very young, but it wasn’t until I saw Episode 1 (even though they say it’s not the best) when I was 14 that I really stuck with the story.

How would you summarize the plot to a person who hasn’t seen any of the movies?

G.C: Without going into much detail, I would say that the story focuses on the eternal struggle between good and evil, between monopolized power and the common good.

M.N: Giant spaceships, lasers, lightsabers, a fictional complete galaxy. What more could you want?!

L.S: I’d say it’s an adventure story. A western in space that at the same time is a movie where the good ones lose, and the space Nazis will dominate the universe. Everything else is decoration.

A.P: First of all, I apologize to the other fans who are going to read this. They are several frames, but on the most basic level, it would be:

Civil war: separatists vs. the republic – separatists being the androids and Siths (dark side) and the republic being clones (white soldiers) and Jedis (light side). The Republic wins, senator Palpatine proposes to arm an intergalactic empire so that it does not happen again, they give him the ok. But it turns out he was a sith!!! And the empire ends up being a high dictatorship, commanded by him and Darth Vader, who stayed with the clones, who now are no longer clones and are called stormtroopers who killed all the Sith, except a few who managed to escape. The rebel alliance is armed on the other side with the sons of Darth Vader, the Jedi who survived, and some others. The empire arms the Death Star, a space station that could destroy a planet in a single shot, and the alliance steals the planes and destroys it. The empire arms another one, now with a shield, but the alliance destroys it again. They face Darth Vader with Luke Skywalker, a new Jedi trained by those who came before him. Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father!! In that fight Vader dies and so does the Emperor. Goodbye to the empire! But the First Order is armed. All the imperialists are reorganized. They put together another station, the star killer that exploited entire systems. The break, the first order, decimates the alliance and now we’re left to see what comes next.

E.N: I would say it is about conflicts between people in outer space who are “free” against a Galactic Empire that seeks to dominate all of the planets in space. In the midst of these conflicts arise the figures of the Jedi, characters with superhuman powers; and their counterpart, the Siths.

P.J: In a very distant galaxy, there is a child with a supernatural potential. He is a noble and good boy but life changes him and leads him to the dark side. Various circumstances make him become the greatest villain in the universe, and he attacks the different worlds. In the end, only the love of a son can overcome all the hatred and fear he felt, and manages to regain the kindness that once existed within him, although perhaps a little late.

Who is your favorite character and why?

G.C: It’s difficult to pick just one, but C3PO is one of the ones I like the most. He’s a robot, but ends up being much more human and comical than many other characters.

M.N: Undoubtedly Darth Vader, because he represents Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The internal fight of good and evil, the conflict for what one feels, what one wants to do or should do and be. In the same way, in comics, novels, and other stories, there are many other characters that could be my favorites, but sticking with the movies, Darth Vader is definitely my favorite one.

L.S: Yoda. Being a character who can barely talk and who hardly appears in the movies, each of his appearances has a huge impact on the story.

A.P: Obi-wan Kenobi. I can only think of nerdy answers, but I think he’s the most “noble” of the characters.

E.N: Even though he’s not the main character, my answer would be Boba Fett, simply because he looks “cool”.

P.J: Han Solo. Even though he’s not the main character in the story, he knows how to capture your attention and be a kind of tough good criminal, but at the same time kind.

What do you think is the most important moral of the story?

G.C: That there is always hope to achieve a better universe.

M.N: Forgiveness, redemption, and letting go. The Buddhist religion was used as the basis for the Jedi teachings – one of the religions in depicted the film in that distant galaxy – so it had a lot of influence. The most important message is in the middle of the Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when Yoda is talking to Anakin, who is about to betray everything and everyone:

“The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy.
The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

It’s very difficult to do and follow what he says there, but it has a lot of meaning and it is an excellent moral of the story.

L.S: That you shouldn’t try to do something halfway, you have to do it for real.

A.P: I think the great thing about the movies is that there’s not just good and bad – there’s a big gray area in between the two extremes in which we can move about. The bad isn’t always simply “bad.” Everything has a backstory.

E.N: It seems to me that the central message is the typical “Good always triumphs over evil”, but there are other aspects that stand out, like loyalty and respect for teachers.

P.J: It seems to me that the main message of the story is that a person has the potential to do many good things as well as bad, and ultimately it depends on the person and their decision-making to choose which path to go down.

A Straight Shooter

We caught up with Nudier Mena about his love of basketball and how it runs in the family!

How is it that you became interested in basketball?

Everything began when I was little and saw my dad play. He was always a great basketball player and was a center just like me, although oftentimes he played as forward because of his agility with the ball. That he was much better at than me!

I remember I was 5 years old when my dad started taking my brothers and me to the majority of his games. Almost every time at the end of the game we stayed afterward to practice dribbling and certain positions that he knew were critical to being a good player. My love for this beautiful sport continued to grow over the years, and when I was about 12, I tried out for the teams in Chocó. I also was selected by the high school in my hometown, Quibdó- Chocó.

When I finished high school, I traveled to the city of Medellín to start my graduate studies, but I never expected to go pro with basketball. I come from a conservative family that teaches you that you need to study, prepare yourself professionally so you can have a better life. Sports are a matter of luck – at one moment you can be at the top of your game, but an injury can ruin all your dreams and end your career early.

In 2005, I started studying engineering and the Metropolitan Technical Institute. 6 months later, someone saw me and invited me to some tryouts in which I was competing against members of the Antioquia (regional) basketball team. Those players had dedicated their whole lives to basketball, but fortunately my skills with the ball landed me a spot on the team. Being part of the team helped me pay for school. The university helped me with 60% of the tuition, and I paid 40%, which for me was a huge help. Not only could I keep playing the sport I love, but I could also support my parents with the costs.

After playing on that team for a year, I decided to retire because I realized all the hours of training and playing were conflicting with my school work. My grades were not the best so I gave up my time on the court.

What do you enjoy most about the sport?
I enjoy everything about it! You can’t put such passion into words, you just have to live it!

What is the basketball community like in Colombia?
Traditionally, basketball hasn’t been one of the most popular sports in Colombia. Maybe that’s why it’s been slower to grow and develop a fanbase compared to other sports like soccer, cycling, or skating.

There’s a lack of management coming from basketball organizations, educational initiatives, and the government to expand the community because the support always goes to soccer.

The advantage that we have in this country is that we have very skilled potential athletes. What we’re missing is someone to go around to the different regions and seek out such talent and train them to be superstars. However, we are also lacking sufficient training facilities or the minimum requirements needed to practice. I think that an alliance between all the athletic entities in the country would help make us a dominant basketball force, like in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. But that definitely requires greater direction and support than what we’re seeing now.

However, there are some rules that help promote the sport among the youth. For example, there’s a rule that national teams have to have at least one player who is under the age of 21. That opens up the opportunity to kids to consider playing basketball professionally.

Which teams or players do you idolize the most?

Definitely Lebron James. He’s one of the best offensive players of all time. Ever since he was drafted by the NBA in 2003, he’s consistently been a top player and leader in the sport. He emits a calm confidence to the rest of the team.

The King (Lebron’s nickname) is a combination of athletic skill on both a technical and physical level that has never been seen before. Even though this is evident from any perspective, the best is when he attacks the hoop. Good dribbling plus all of his skill make it impossible to defend him.

Do you still practice to this day?

Yes, but not with the same intensity of skill that I used to have, mostly due to an ankle injury. I’d rather be in the stands than out on the court. It’s too painful for me to play now.

Arepas ‘con Cariño’

Diego Del Aguila recently joined the Lima Team, and thus far has been impressing everyone with his awesome arepas! Diego once lived in Venezuela, and brought the recipe for this typical dish with him when he moved to Peru. Not quite sure what an arepa is? Let Diego tell you about it.

Tell us what goes into making a GREAT arepa.

Arepas are easy to make. The key ingredients are corn flour (precooked, which is common in Venezuela and Colombia), water, and salt. But what makes arepas great is that you can fill them with different kinds of ingredients, like beef, chicken, cheese, etc. Common combinations in Venezuela include la reina pepiada (avocado, chicken, onion, pepper, mayonnaise), el perico (egg, tomato, onion) and la dominó (black beans and white cheese).

Aside from that, the most important ingredient is the care & love that you put into it.

How long have you been making homemade arepas?

For almost 20 years now, back to when I lived in Venezuela. Sometimes I would be home alone and had to make something for breakfast or dinner, and a good option was always the arepas.

Do you have any fun memories making arepas?

When I first started making arepas on my own, I didn’t know the exact amounts of each ingredient that you needed, so I had bad ratios of flour to water and salt, and my first batches came out very hard, bland, not salty at all or with too much salt! It took a lot of time and practice to achieve the perfect recipe. Years later I realized that the bag of flour includes instructions on how to make them!

Are there other things you like to cook as well?

I love to cook different things. I like making Mexican food, pastas, salads – I make my own lunch almost everyday. Every once in awhile I’ll invite my friends or family over for lunch or dinner. I think it’s a nice gesture to cook and provide food to your loved ones, bringing everyone together around the table, enjoying something you made with your own hands.