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The Universe of Colombian Food


In Colombia, food equals variety. As I told you on one of the previous issues, Colombian food is very rich and you can find an endless list of dishes in each region. Also, you should know our cuisine does not have much to do with the world renown Mexican or Spanish ones. Most of our preparations resemble some Peruvian or Venezuelan versions.

In some areas you will find specialties such as roasted ants or guinea pigs, of course there are others that are not so edgy, and an overwhelming offer of fresh fruit which can only be found there. This last aspect is particularly important considering our cuisine is not exactly a paradise for vegetarians as it includes a lot of meat.

In the middle: Hormigas culonas (ants) and cuy (guinea pig). On the left: guayaba, guanábana, and maracuyá. On the right: uchuva, borojó, and chontaduro.

For breakfast the range of options is just a proof of how different we are. In the coast, people would have plantain with salty cheese. In Bogota and the surroundings, people eat changua, which is a kind of potato soup with egg. In El Valle, bread is the axis of this meal. In Antioquia, we eat Arepa with quesito, which I always describe as a thick tortilla with butter and fresh cheese on. Colombians would vary and add eggs, cereal or even calentao (a mix with some leftovers of rice, beans, sometimes meat, from the day before)… But what I find very different when compared to the US is that, generally, we never eat sweet things for breakfast, except for hot cocoa or aguapanela, an infusion made from hardened concentrated cane syrup. And of course, we love coffee.

On the left: Patacones with cheese, changua, and arepa. On the right: calentao and pandebonos.

For lunch, again, choices are limitless. The menu, though, would normally include soup, rice, some type of meat, potatoes, salad… It is a complete meal, anything but light. Here are some of the options you could find in any home:

From the top left: Sanchocho, bandeja paisa, mondongo and a typical lunch from the coast (fish, coconut rice, and plantain).

On the other hand, there is no general consent about dinner. This meal tends to be very light, including salads, just bread, eggs, cereal, or leftovers from lunch.

So, this is just a sample of what I know, but keep in mind that it’s still very limited. Also, I hope you did not get the impression that this is all we eat. We have many influences from the around the world, so on a daily basis we could find any type of Italian pasta, Mexican spiciness, American fast food, French crepes, Chinese rice, and even a Japanese offer.

Finally, I haven’t tried the ants or the guinea pig, and I don’t think I ever will. But I’m sure there are more colorful, juicy and crazy dishes waiting for me in any corner of my beloved Colombia.

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