7 Cool Venezuelan Things That Will Be Your Jam
So here we are, and here's the list of things that I adore - some weird, some delicious - about my country and YOU WILL TOO!
1. Jose Gregorio Hernandez
Get ready to read something eerie and awesome. The first of two religious oddities on my list.
Jose Gregorio Hernandez to many Venezuelans is a saint. He was a doctor who treated the poor without charge and was beloved in Caracas.
He died in 1919, run over by what they say, was the only car in Caracas.
Caracas ran out of flowers the day of his funeral - the entire city went to pay their respects.
A dark silhouette of a man with a hat with hands clasped behind his back is instantly recognized by any Venezuelan as Jose Gregorio.
I love him, along with my black statuette of him - you can have yours too, they sell some goodies on Amazon (affiliate links below).
I thank G-d and Jose Gregorio, every day for arepas, not just because they're delicious, but also because I'm intolerant to gluten and they are what keeps me alive.
I love arepas so much that I have a secret blog thearepakitchen.com. - I decided to come out of the closet about it.
What are arepas? They're bread-like "buns" made from corn flour (gluten-free) , some call them corn cakes but I don't like to think of them as corn cakes - that sounds so rural. Arepas are cool.
3. The Glitter Virgin Mary: La Rosa Mistica + Co.
Disclaimer: I don't mean disrespect to anyone who is religious! These are just cultural things I appreciate. I am an atheist but I pray the rosary when I'm scared - make what you want of that.
La Rosa Mistica is a Virgin Mary who manifests herself by way of glitter. That's right, if you pray and La Rosa Mistica wants to reward you, your body is instantly covered in glitter <3 <3 <3.
Each region has their own Virgin Mary in Venezuela - similar to a soccer team. They all have different names and skillz. Some examples are:
- Our Lady of Self-Portraits. La Virgen de Coromoto appeared to a tribe Chief and left a portrait of her behind when he tried to grab her; she is the patron of Venezuela.
- Our Lady of Rain. La Virgen del Valle is Margarita Island's symbol. She saved a drought, for her cape brings showers.
- Our Lady of Hearts. La Virgen de Betania - she had something with a rose bleeding, unsure. What I do know is the shrine is in a little town a really long ride away from Caracas, that of course, I had to endure SEVERAL times to pay my respects.
- Our Lady of Heavy Wood. La Virgen de Chiquinquira, Our Lady of the Andes, aka La Chinita, appeared to a local woman in Maracaibo on top of a wooden board the woman had found floating in the river. When men tried to move the blessed wooden board to the evil Capital of Caracas, it got heavier and heavier so it had to stay in Maracaibo.
However, my favorite, my all time favorite - La Virgen de la Rosa Mystica, first appeared in the Italian alps.
Her glitter miracles became the Venezuelan church lady fad of the early 2000's.
Some church ladies would even sprinkle fake glitter on them AND/OR accuse each other of carrying glitter in the purse to pretend they were having a manifestation!
"Estoy escarchada" became a popular term which translates to, "I'm glittered."
Unicorn culture is child's play - we were way ahead of the curb.
4. Design Inspiration: Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez + Gerd Leufert
Few people know this but I'm a Graphic Designer. I rarely design anymore because I give the task to my super talented cousin, Samuel Arroyo. He made my logo! Scroll to the top of my site to see it.
No doubt about it , my favorite type of work is Venezuelan abstract geometry. I love to geek out over Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez (he inspired my Belen Estacio logo) and Gerd Leufert along with his bae, Gego.
Gerd and Gego were immigrants from Europe and they heavily influenced Venezuelan design - I love this because Venezuela is a melting pot and we're proud of that. Gerd and Geo contributed a lot to the aesthetic of our country.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to have Samuel, my cousin + designer, create your logo or an illustration of you, like the below.
He's a genius <3
5. Simon Diaz, my favorite musician
I love Simon Diaz so much, if I ever have children, I am naming them Simon - boy or girl, after him.
Chillest music ever.
Nothing else to say.
6. Toto Aguerrevere
My favorite contemporary Venezuelan writer. He's funny and reminds me of David Sedaris.
He has a wonderful book that I highly recommend, Cuentos de Sobremesa - they're short funny stories of Caracas living. It's in Spanish. Here's an excerpt:
On Venezuelan culture:
"Una sociedad que se seca el pelo para ir a la playa pero que lleva una cava de anime con un tirro pegado con el nombre de la familia escrito en Markette rojo está loca. Fui finalista en el Concurso Cartas de Amor de Mont Blanc en dos ocasiones. Me gané una pluma. Se la presto a mis amigos cuando se casan o cuando se divorcian."
"A society which finds it normal to blow-dry their hair before going to the beach but takes a styrofoam cooler with masking tape spelling out the family name, is crazy. I was a finalist in Mont Blanc's Love Letter contest and won a pen. I lend it to my friends when they marry and divorce."
He also has a blog. I admire Toto a lot, he won't give up on Venezuela. I hope to be his friend someday.
Not to be confused with mozzarella sticks, tequeños are a Venezuelan version of basically just that but they're SO MUCH BETTER! My fave are ProperTequeño - the baked or fried versions are both delish. I get the baked, healthier.