One thing is for sure in Colombia, they are not checking their waistline when it comes to there traditional food. Before coming to Colombia I had heard mixed reviews both by word of mouth and on the web. By the end I loved it. I had tried a tonne, been thoroughly surprised at all the new things I had tried with the best Colombian food the country had to offer. This list is of dishes and food you can get up and down the country for the best Colombian food. Whether they are delicious or a new flavour for you, it is something that needs to be tried while you’re in Colombia!
This dish is considered the national dish of Colombia. The dish is massive, be prepared not to be able to walk after eating it. It’s an enormous platter of rice, beans, crackling, chorizo, plantain, arepas, avocado, egg and a sausage I can only compare to haggis but with rice. Like tEnglishish breakfast, there are lots of variations and discussions as to what goes into the dish, but you can find it up and down the entire country.
If you look at the geographical world map, Colombia is up there with one of the best places to grown and cultivate coffee. As a result, its coffee is world renowned on the global market and rightly so. It was some of the best coffees I have ever tasted. You can get a massive variety of coffee quality in Colombia. From women on the street selling ‘tinto’ coffee (black coffee) in thermos to the high-end coffee shops like Amor Perfecto in Bogota.
A fermented drink that comes from South and Central America. I can only describe it as a cider meets fruit smoothie and surprisingly nice, given that description. In Colombia is it generally fermented from maize and then apple is added to it. Variations can be non-alcoholic right up to spirit-like strength.
Is a soup that was on pretty much every restaurant and cafe menu we went into. It is made from variations of potatoes and corns but with the South America herb ‘guasca’ giving it the flavour I’d never tried before. It then has the addition of an almost DIY kit where you can add capers, chicken, and cream.
Chocolat Caliente y Queso (hot chocolate and cheese):
There was a reoccurring theme while travelling in Colombia. They try and put cheese in most dishes, including there hot chocolate. This particular one along with the one in La Puerta Falsa is the most well know in Bogota. Walking behind an emerald and jewelry shop, you come into what looks like a run-down cafe. The mild salty cheese is placed in the hot chocolate to let it soften while you sip the sweet hot chocolate. Nibble on the salty, soft melting cheese at the bottom and then take another sip of the sweet hot chocolate for the flavours to balance one another out. A must try in the capital.
Arepas (& coffee):
They vary massively in how they are prepared and eaten. It’s known that arepas in Colombia are consumed more than bread. It is essentially a cornmeal pancake but can have so many different things in the middle, or simply on the side of a dish plain. These pictured above had mature cheese and corn added to the mix and made for a dense very savory outcome. It is suggested this type of arepa is dipped in coffee or hot chocolate for a salty/sweet balance. Other varieties include stringy cheese in the middle, veggies and all kinds of meat.
Colombia loves it snacks, you will find street vendors selling anything and everything. Empanadas can be found all over Central and South America but each country has its own version. They are like corn-pasties but in Colombia, they are fried rather than baked. They can be filled with anything, meat, potato, and veg are regular fillers and the quality throughout the country varies massively. My recommendation is to go where the locals go for there empanadas or better yet ask a local.
Cocadas Blancas (and variations of):
Traditional as a dessert with coffee in Colombia. There are many variations but the main common theme was coconut and sugar. It was like a fudge meets whatever they decided to put inside. Flavours pictured above are plum & blackberry and coconut & arequipe (similar to dulce de leche). These are some of the sweetest things I have ever tastest but I loved it. My friend who doesn’t have a sweet tooth reguarly questioned how I managed to eat them, claiming it made his teeth hurt.
Pan de Bono:
A type of cheesy bread that is made out of corn, cassava (yukka) starch, cheese and sometimes contains guava in its centre. You will see these on many street corners and with the guava, are surprisingly tasty. This was a firm favorite among the people I was with on the day of trying these.
So by now, you will know cheese is included in most things, including Colombia’s well know dessert, obleas. Traditionally two thin wafers are smothered with arequipe (similar to dulce de leche) and grated cheese. It seemed to me they were going for the salted caramel flavour with the arequipe and cheese together. But there are loads of extras you can include in the centre, nuts, Nutella, cream, coconut, jam and sprinkles.
Bocadillo (Guava sweets):
A sweet often wrapped in brown paper that you will see up and down the country. Our guide reassured us it was 100% guava, but with most things in South America, I’m certain there is sugar added. Either way, it’s cheap and common in most areas of Colombia so you will easily be able to give it a taste!