Tasty, fresh, varied – these are all good adjectives for Colombian food. I think it is fair to say that Colombian cuisine is not as developed as say food in Peru – perhaps due to the many decades of civil unrest. However, almost anything grows well somewhere in Colombia and the food and flavours are fresh and tasty with lots of regional dishes to try.
The five dishes below show a good spread of the different treats on offer. However, even in our four weeks, there was so much we did not try. Two weeks on the Caribbean coast made a big impression and the first two dishes here are a testament to that.
1. Fried fish with patacón, rice and salad
A whole fried fish with deep fried plantain, also known as patacón, boiled rice and a small salad of lettuce, onion and tomato is the Carribean staple in Colombia. It is an understatement to say we ate this a lot and it was always delicious. Sea bream was a popular variety of fish however others were on offer including baraccuda. Personally, I could eat this twice a day, and sometimes did. It is especially good to eat while sitting on the beach watching the crisp blue Caribbean sea.
Our pick: the Caribbean
In the UK we usually turn these things into scampi – I think the Colombians do a much better job. Who can beat eating a bit plate of grilled langoustines while listening to the lapping waves of the ocean.
Our pick: Playa Blanca near Cartagena
Moving away from the Caribbean to the cuisine of the Andes. This hearty, moresome soup is a favourite of Bogotá residents. It is made from chicken, potatos and containes a piece of corn. The potatoes break down to thicken the soup.
Our pick: Antigua de Santa Fe, Calle 11, No 6-20
4. Avena and Panedebonos
Avena is an cool oatmeal based drink and panedebonos is a cheese bread. This combination is a popular mid-morning snack across Colombia. The avena is thickened with cornstarch and sweetened with sugar. The panedebonos is made from corn, yucca flour, white cheese and milk.
Our pick: La Estación del Pandebono, Carrera 7 con 63, Bogotá (thanks to our food tour guide Diana for showing this to us).
5. Colombian sweet treats
There are a wide variety of Colombian sweets on offer and they can be found all over the country. Popular ingredients include dulce de leche, guava jelly and coconut. We have never seen sweets like this anywere else – do not hesistate to try!
Our pick: Colombia
We were lucky in Bogotá to be given a food tour by Diana Holguin of Bogotá Eats and Drinks. Diana was born in Bogotá and educated in the US and UK. We took her Chapinero food tour to visit a variety of culinary establishments in Bogotá. We strongly recommend trying one of her tours.