Colombia is known for having some of the world’s best coffee, but did you know that this country also has some of the most delicious food? It’s true, I went to Bogota and ate my way through the entire trip. Here are 8 foods you must try in Colombia.
1. Ajiaco – My first meal in Colombia was ajiaco, a popular soup dish made with chicken, potatos, corn and a Colombian herb called guascas. Usually it is served with capers and avocado (avocado, by the way, is MUCH larger and more flavorful here than it is in the US). Each region of Colombia puts their own spin on ajiaco, and it’s the ultimate comfort food.
2. Steak – Steak is just better in Colombia. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure there’s a scientific reason. I actually don’t even like steak – but I had it here and thought it was delicious. The above is from Restaurante Sanalejo in Cajica, a town about 30 minutes driving from Bogota (it’s on the way from Bogota to the Salt Cathedral).
3. ALL of the bread – I think I might be addicted to Colombian breads. The neighborhood I live in has many Colombian bakeries, and whenever I walk by I can’t help stopping to get a pandebono (cheese bread, which is actually gluten free). But of course it’s better from the real source, so eat up. Apparently when you’re at a high altitude (which Bogota is), you burn more calories throughout the day. I took this as my personal excuse to eat bread nonstop.
4. Chicharron – Deep fried pig skin with pork. Not healthy in any way, but a good snack to indulge in at least once while you’re in Colombia. Dip it in guacamole, because let’s face it: everything is better with guac. It’s also part of the national dish, bandeja paisa, which I recommend ordering if you’re REALLY hungry.
5. Fruits – With a good chunk of the Amazon rainforest falling in Colombia, there are a plethora of exotic fruits that you’ve probably never heard of. I tried several, but my favorite was the tomate de arbol. Tomate de arbol is also called tamarillo or tree tomato. It’s a little tart, but just cut it open, add some sugar and scoop out the insides (not the skin). I’d recommend going to the market and buying a bunch of fruits so you can try a different one each day. Just ask a local how to eat them, because sometimes it really is a mystery.
6. Lechona – Lechona is a whole roast pig, stuffed with rice, peas, onions and a combination of spices. It’s cooked in a clay oven for up to ten hours, and the result is seriously so good that you will forget that you are scraping it out of an actual pig. Why is it so hard to eat our food when we can see its original form? This is typically served at special occasions, however you can find it in some restaurants in Bogota and at the flea market on Sundays in Usaquen.
7. Empanadas – Who doesn’t love empanadas? You’ll find these everywhere in Latin America, but each country has their own unique take on them. I love to squeeze a bit of lime inside for some flavor.
8. Arequipe – Also known in other countries as dulce de leche, arequipe is a dessert prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk. Anything you find with arequipe in it, just eat it! Above I’m trying an oblea, which is two thin wafers with arequipe in between. Yum.
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