TODAY COLOMBIA by bogotastic ·When I travel, more than sightseeing, I love to eat. Eating the national dishes of the country when traveling tell me much more about its people and its culture then a work of art in a museum. It’s a sensorial journey that involves all the senses. How could you resist?
Although some foreigners claim to love a few of the national dishes Colombia has to offer, typical Colombian food is not internationally recognized as many foreigners will tell you that Colombian specialties are generally bland, meat-heavy, overly fried, and a carb overload. However, it hits home for many Colombians as it’s what they grew up with and is a reminder of mom or grandma’s cooking, their youth and their land (something which they are very proud of).
So if you’re in Colombia and want to taste a piece of Colombian pride, I invite you to try the most popular Colombian food, which I have listed below.
I am sure there are specialty restaurants in Bogota for each dish/drink listed below, but when you are out about about visiting the city it can be a drag sometimes to go out of your way to find a specific address to feed your starved self. Therefore, I have made it easy and provided you with places that are in reach and easy to find as a tourist.
1. HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHEESE WITH AN ALMOJABANA AND/OR A BUNUEL
Hot Chocolate with Cheese (usually mozzarella or peto) sounds like a strange combo. Colombians typically have this for breakfast or ‘onces’, the 5’clock afternoon snack. If you care to do the same, take the cheese and drop it in your hot chocolate until it melts. Accompany the warm drink with an almojabana (baked cheesy bread ball) or a buñuelo (fried cheesy bread ball).
There’s different types but essentially they all contain, chicken/pork, cornmeal, chickpea and other veggies wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. My personal favorite is a tamal santafereño for breakfast.
It’s easy to spot lechona from far as it’s hard to miss the roasted pork head.
Cornmeal with cheese and butter steamed in a corn husk. Sounds so simple, but sometimes aren’t those the best things in life? For this particular item, avoid Andres Carne de Res, they taste nothing like the real deal.
In all the countries I have traveled, no other place has the variety of fruits that Colombia does. Take advantage and drink up! My personal favorite is Guanabana or Soursop.
You’ll find it on every menu of every restaurant but some are more watered down than others. You’ll also find guanabana juice on the streets, but don’t trust the water they use.
Foreigners don’t seem to understand why Colombians can’t live without their arepas. They’re so dry and bland. Colombians will inarguable say something along the lines of, “Yes, that’s because you have to put, cheese and salt and butter and…and….and on top!” Save yourself the tasteless arepas and try the popular, arepa de choclo, arepa boyacense and arepa de huevo which are some of the most beloved amongst foreigners. And no offense, but we all know Venezuelans have upped the arepa game with their stuffed arepas!
In this communal basket of food to be shared with friends, you’ll find all parts of the pig stuffed, fried and grilled, potatoes, arepas, envueltos, corn, and more. Have you heard of the fritanga? A Fritanga is basically the same parts of the pig, but fried everything. If you want to save yourself the calories, this is the “healthier” version.
Colombians empanadas are fried (what a surprise!) and most commonly filled with meat and mashed potatoes. Take a first bite and fill the empanada with ají and guacamole for a real kick.
10. CAZUELA DE MARISCOS
Seafood stew with coconut cream. My favorite Colombian dish! Originating from the coast of Colombia, no two are the same.
Sopas de Mama y Postres de la Abuela is a chain of typical Colombian food that’s easy to find and serves some really tasty dishes. Don’t hesitate to get the cazuela de mariscos.
11. AJIACO SANTAFERENO
This is the most representative dish of Bogotá. There is no way you can leave this city without having their famous soup. It’s a chicken and potato soup that is served with a side or rice and avocado which it to be mixed in the soup. To top it off, you can add capers, extra cream and ají to bring up to heat.
12. BANDEJA PAISA
Probably the most emblematic dish and the most famous Colombian food, the bandeja paisa comes from the region of Antioquia. This used to be the breakfast of workers who had long and hard day ahead of them. This extremely heavy dish come with beans, chorizo, chicharron, ground meat, morcilla, fried egg, plaintain, arepa and avocado. Be prepared to enter a food coma.
It’s not a dish but it doesn’t matter. You can’t leave Colombia without knocking back a few shots of this anise-flavored liquor.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Everywhere. At every party, restaurant and event.