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Hungerlust: Finding Colombia in New York's Queens

Picture of Nikki Vargas
Travel Editor
Updated: 3 November 2017
On this next episode of Culture Trip’s original series, Hungerlust—which explores the various cultures that call New York City home—we head to Queens to meet with the famous Arepa Lady and get an authentic taste of Colombia.

When Maria Piedad Cano first immigrated from Medellin to the United States back in the 1980s, she was a single mom with four sons who had just left a steady job as a criminal court judge back in Colombia. With virtually no money and command of the English language, Cano worked odd jobs to feed her family before deciding on the venture of launching her own food truck to serve arepas.

Arepa Lady | © Culture Trip
Arepa Lady | © Culture Trip

Arepas—a classic dish found in Colombia and Venezuela—is made of ground maize dough and can be served in an array of styles with cheese, chorizo and other assorted toppings. Since the 1990s, Cano had been serving her arepas on the streets of Queens, steadily gaining popularity first among the local community and then becoming a destination for foodies.

In 2014, after saving for upwards of six years, Cano and her family opened Arepa Lady, a brick and mortar restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue. In this episode, we meet with Cano and her son, Alejandro Osorio, to learn about Colombian cuisine and get a behind-the-scenes look at how this classic dish is made.

Catch up on Hungerlust and watch Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 4 and Episode 5!