Blanca Valbuena

Colombian Food Culture

Colombian Food Culture

Colombia’s food culture is rich and diverse as the different geographic and cultural regions of the country have strongly maintained their culinary identity.  Many dishes in Colombia have Spanish influences but it always reflects the people’s great love for their land, its harvests and the waters that surround it.  Colombia is bathed by both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, tipped by the Amazon and traversed by the Andes Mountains. This equals a plethora of ingredients to play with. Cooking traditions are also influenced by the availability of food resources which is why every Colombian has a distinct taste when it comes to their preferred native foods.  Of course, Colombian cooks never fail to add another element to their cuisine: adventure.

Have a sampling of a classic Colombian dish, the ajiaco.  An ajiaco is basically a chicken soup with potatoes, maiz, avocado and the local herb called the guascas.   It is more prevalent in Bogota and the Andean region. The ingredients alone may amaze a lot of people: who puts avocado in their soup? Answer: me. I am Colombian and I love avocado in my chicken soup. Another weird but delicious combo to try...sliced bananas in your chicken soup. Simply delicious. The ajiaco is typically enjoyed with cream and capers.  It is also served with white rice, and the favorite side dish is salad with avocado, lemon and tostadas.

When you wake up in Bogota and somewhere in the Adean region, you may see many Colombians enjoying their famous cup of Colombian coffee with changuachangua is a milk-egg soup garnished scallions and paired with stale bread called calado.  If you’re curious what chagua is like, simply heat equal amounts of water and milk and then add a dash of salt.  Crack an egg and let the yolk cook while it is poached with the water-milk mixture. Pour this into a bowl with Queso Colombiano at the bottom and garnish with scallions and cilantro.  Easy, comforting and delectable.

When you finally reach the coast, people are found to have a taste for spice.  Interestingly, this part of Colombia experienced a wave of Arab immigration, and some hints of Arabic cooking can be found in these regions.  Suero is similar to yogurt and sour cream and lots of Colombians eat it.  Coconut rice is also a favorite, it is be paired with the popular spicy dish made of pork and whale liver.  Arepa, which is a corn dough, has its many versions in this part of Colombia.  You can find variations with egg (arepa de huevo) and with cheese (arepa de queso).

When you go to the eastern portion of the country, you will see many Colombian cowboys and food that are inspired by the cowboy culture.  Barbecues are very popular such as the ternera llanera.  Colombians also love their whole roasted pig filled with rice, vegetables and pork called the lechonas. In the Amazonian portion of Colombia, expect a strong Amazonian cuisine tradition as well.  This means dishes made of freshwater fish, beef and livestock.

Colombia is also home to the famous tamales, the delicacy Tolimenses originating from the Tolima region.  The plantain leaves, which are boiled for three to four hours, are stuffed with corn dough, arroz, Cerdo, chicken, papas, zanahorias, peas and many spices.

You can get more adventurous with food in Colombia as you explore the many tropical fruits that the country is rich in.  You will not get enough of the different types of bananas in the country and the wide range of sweet tropical fruits such as mangoes, guavas, apples, pears, and others. But of course, before you go off to a Colombian culinary journey, start the day off with at the local galería with a cup of their coffee which is regarded as one of the most distinguished in the entire world.

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Blanca Valbuena

Yo soy el co-fundador de FriendsEat y Socialdraft. Tengo una obsesión enfermiza con Chardonnay de Borgoña, ASOIAF, y viajar.

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