Colombian cuisine is as diverse as its landscape, marked by regional variations and influenced by Indigenous, Spanish, and African culinary traditions. Here are the top tips to immerse yourself in Colombia’s vibrant food scene.
Start with Arepas
Arepas, cornmeal patties often stuffed with cheese, meat, or eggs, are a Colombian staple. Whether for breakfast or a snack, these versatile disks are a must-try.
Taste the National Dish, Bandeja Paisa
Originating from Antioquia, Bandeja Paisa is a platter of grilled steak, pork cracklings, chorizo sausages, topped with a fried egg and served alongside rice, red beans, avocado, and a slice of arepa. It’s a hearty reflection of Colombian cuisine.
Enjoy Colombian Soups
Colombian soups like ‘ajiaco’ (a hearty chicken, potato, and corn soup, topped with cream and capers) and ‘sancocho’ (a rich stew with meat, potatoes, plantains, and corn) provide comfort and a taste of home cooking.
Savor Colombian Coffee
Colombia is known for its excellent coffee. Visit a coffee plantation to learn about the process from bean to cup and to sample freshly brewed Colombian coffee.
Indulge in Colombian Sweets
For something sweet, try ‘brevas con arequipe’ (figs with dulce de leche), ‘cholados’ (fruit salads with condensed milk and shredded coconut), or ‘ojaldras’ (flaky pastries dusted with sugar).
Sample Fresh Fruit Juices
Colombia’s tropical climate makes it perfect for fruit cultivation. Don’t miss the freshly squeezed juices made from exotic fruits like lulo, maracuya, guanabana, or tomate de arbol.
Try Street Food
Street food offers an authentic taste of local flavors. Sample ’empanadas’ (stuffed pastries), ‘patacones’ (fried green plantains), and ‘chuzos’ (skewered meats).
Visit Local Markets
Explore local markets like Bogota’s Paloquemao market for a colorful array of fresh produce, regional specialties, and delicious street food.
Enjoy Colombian Rum and Aguardiente
Colombian rums are world-renowned, and aguardiente, an anise-flavored liquor, is a national favorite. Sip responsibly!
Engage with Locals
Locals are the best source of information for regional dishes, unique food customs, and hidden eateries. Also, consider a cooking class or food tour for a deeper dive into Colombian cuisine.
Colombia’s diverse and vibrant culinary scene reflects its rich cultural history, varied geography, and the warm spirit of its people. From hearty arepas to world-class coffee, luscious fruit juices, and sweet delights, every bite and sip promise to be a revelation. Enjoy your gastronomic exploration in Colombia!