Foodie Focus: Columbia!

As the Food Focus enters its second month, I thought I would write about the culinary delights of Colombia. I am fortunate enough to be visiting this South American country next week for a three week holiday exploring what it has to offer with a friend….. I haven’t done much research yet on what to expect or where to go but at least I can say I have looked into what I might eat!

The national dish is called Bandeja Paisa: a huge mixture of food on a platter. It consists of grilled steak, fried pork and chorizo sausages all served on a bed of rice and beans that is then topped with a fried egg and a sliced avocado and sweet banana. It resembles a fry up and clearly is not one for the vegetarians.

Bandeja Paisa – cvander

The main dish from the capital city Bogota is the Ajiaco – a soup made of chicken, corn, potatoes, avocado and a local herb called guasca that gives the soup its distinctive flavour.

Ajiaco – Photo by Reindertot

A staple with any Colombian meal is the Arepa – a sort of patty made of corn dough that is baked, grilled or fried and served either plain with butter or with savoury fillings such as fish, egg or cheese.

Cooking Arepa – Photo by M.Markus

Colombian breakfasts may include a hot chocolate or coffee alongside an Arepa however another breakfast option I have found is Changua – a milk, onion and egg soup, served with coriander and a piece of stale bread….. I know which one I would rather have!

Colombia tamales are cooked corn dough wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled for a few hours. They are large, soft corn cakes, filled with carrot, vegetables, rice and chicken although they vary slightly depending on the region.

Tamales – Photo by janeyhenning

Two other important components of Colombia’s gastronomy are the coffee and exotic fruit. Not only are there several varieties of banana, 5 different mangos and fruits such as zapote, lulo, uchuva, borojó, curuba and the guayabamanzana that I have never heard of before but look forward to trying!

Zapote – Photo by leoncillo sabino

Uchuva – Photo by Mataparda

One menu entry that I think I will be avoiding are roasted ants! Yes, during the rainy season, the ants are harvested, soaked and roasted in a ceramic pot. They were once considered a valuable source of protein by peasant populations living in North East Colombia and have been so extensively harvested that they are now verging on extinction in that area!

Top image from thejourney1972