Arepa Soundtracks owner Cameron Everett says food and music go hand-in-hand.
“I think every time you try an arepa it’s no different than trying a new song,” explained Everett about the type of food made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Venezuela.
Everett is speaking of the new discoveries, textures and details listeners can make each time they replay a song. It’s the same with cuisine, he said.
“Unless you’re Wolfgang Puck or Gordon Ramsay or something and have super taste buds, I just don’t know if you’re going to pick every note up. Same with drinking beer or wine or whatever. I relate that to music.
“I also think music, food and beverage are what God has given us to have a happy life, so I think they should be tied together. I think it fits for me.”
Everett and his wife, Martha, opened the music-themed Venezuelan food truck in Alabama last February and relocated to the West Valley in October. They take classic Venezuelan dishes and applied fun, new names.
Most important is Arepa Soundtracks serves handmade arepas; they’re not frozen.
After arepas are prepared, each one is wrapped and labeled with a sticker bearing the namesake band’s logo. Menus are presented on thrifted vinyl records.
And The Grateful Dead may be to thank for it all. While listening to the Dead’s “Casey Jones,” he said his own notion came to him.
Arepa Soundtracks’ Casey Jones is Black Angus beef; red, yellow and orange bell peppers; sweet Peruvian onions; garlic; salt; pepper; and cheddar cheese. The food truck’s website describes it as “a harmony of flavors The Grateful Dead would become addicted” to.
A Venezuelan classic called the Reina Pepiada was renamed The Champion of the World after Queen. That incorporates shredded chicken, green onions, peas, mayonnaise and half an avocado.
Vegetarian eaters can try the Domino, a black bean-based meal with jalapeños; red, yellow and orange bell peppers; sweet Peruvian onions; garlic; salt; pepper; and mozzarella cheese.
“Van Morrison supposedly is a vegetarian, so our Domino is fitting,” Everett explained. “He has a song called ‘Domino.’ It’s called the Domino in Venezuela because of black beans and white cheese, so it all tied in with Van Morrison for me.”
More niche music fans can try the Pork and Cheese If You Please, a nod to the eclectic Ween and its “Pork Roll Eggs & Cheese” song off The Pod. For this one, slow-cooked pork meets rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese.
“I started singing (‘Pork Roll Eggs & Cheese’) to myself and I’m like, ‘That’s our pork and cheese, whatever, let’s give a nod to Ween.’ No one talks about Ween,” he said. “And if you guess that sticker, man, I’ll high-five and fist-bump you.”
The King is the most popular arepa, Everett says. It features caramelized sweet plantains; Black Angus; red, yellow and orange bell peppers; sweet Peruvian onions; garlic; salt; pepper; black beans with a bit of a jalapeño kick; and mozzarella cheese.
“We call it The King after Elvis, the greatest,” Everett explained. “It’s the most popular in Venezuela, it was the most popular in Alabama, and it seems to be one of the most popular here.”
All arepas cost $10 and include tax, chips and a bottle of water. But it’s not just arepas.
An empanada named after Led Zeppelin’s “The Epic,” an obscure rough mix of “Carouselambra,” costs $6, or patrons can get two for $10.
“Our empanadas are amazing,” Everett said. “They’re made with the Harina P.A.N. white corn meal that the arepas are made out of.”
Salads and “sidetracks” cost $5. This section of the menu ranges from Dreams, a craison spinach salad named after The Cranberries’ song of the same name, to Comfort Eagle, a Venezuelan quesillo cake in honor of Cake’s collection, and Day-O, a nod to Harry Belafonte.
The menu also pays tribute to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and The Beatles.
Everett said he wasn’t always familiar with the popular Venezuelan item known as an arepa, though – that is until he met Martha, who is of Venezuelan heritage. Everett has Crohn’s disease, so Martha introduced him to arepas as a gluten-free option. And he loved it. (Empanadas are gluten free, too.)
So, Everett turned to Google. He noticed a lack of representation around the country and, coming from a farm and restaurant background, he decided arepas were the right fit for his desire to start his own restaurant.
The Everetts are based in the West Valley, but Cameron isn’t ruling out taking the food truck wherever business is in the Valley. A schedule of locations can be found on its website, arepasoundtracks.com.
He has big goals for Arepa Soundtracks. Though staples in American culture now, he notes once-foreign items like tacos and pizza weren’t as represented. His goal is to get arepas to the same status.
“I’ve got big dreams and I want to help with resources grow a chain of Venezuelan arepa and empanada restaurants,” he said. “I just think it’s possible.”