A friend and I set out for Jackson Heights last night,
arriving at what we took to be the northwestern corner
of Roosevelt and 79th at about 10:24 p.m. Seeing no
arepa lady, and reluctant to patronize some imitator,
we explored the neighborhood for some twenty minutes,
finally stopping to examine a smoky cart we noticed on
the western corner of that same intersection.
In charge was a woman of indeterminate age, tending
BBQ sticks over the fire and three varieties of
patties on a griddle. What are these? we asked
about one variety. Arepas, said she. And
these? Arepas. And those? Arepas. Looks
like we found the Arepa Lady.
The first arepas were whitish inside, browned on top
and bottom, five inches or so in diameter, and
somewhat less than an inch thick, resembling steroidal
English muffins. Brushed with butter, they wore
grated cheese on top and a layer of melted cheese
within, and were simply transcendent.
Next came tiny, blander arepas, somewhat like garlic
knots in appearance, served as a foil to the sauce on
the fine, juicy barbecued meat.
The final arepas were much thinner, larger pancakes,
removed from a stack on the corner of the griddle,
brushed also with butter, and served folded in half
around a grated-cheese filling. These were yellow,
containing discernible bits of kernel, and, cheese
aside, resembled excellent flattened corn fritters.
What was intended to be a simple post-dinner snack
developed into a fairly substantial supper on the
steps of a Korean-American bank. Perhaps because of
the order of the courses (an order determined by the
Arepa Lady herself, who chose what wed have first),
we liked the first course easily the best.
Well worth the trip, and another and another.
Question for Jim: Do weekends include Friday
nights? I forgot to ask.