One-Day Gastronomic Tour of Colombia

In Colombia, the dishes are often simple, like the standard lunch fare at local restaurants, where the menu offers a total of four options for the day, and everyone drinks the same juice and eats the same soup for a starter.  Very little is spicy, and the most abundant resource is fruit.  If you are visiting Bogota, try a little bit of everything—even if you only have one day, you can get a good idea of the local palete.  Here are a few ideas to get you started on your one-day gastronomic tour of Colombia.


Before a long day of exploring Bogota, you´ll want something hearty to keep you going, say some milk, eggs, bread and cheese.  Ask for a changua, and everything comes in one milky bowl of soup, where you can dig for the gooey, cheesy bread and smooth egg under its cilantro-sprinkled surface.  Accompany that with fresh squeezed orange juice and a black coffee, tinto, and pay about the equivalent of three US dollars.  And a tip from Colombian friends for anyone who is a bit sensitive to dairy; take a warm cup of straight lemon juice made from three fresh lemons, and you´ll be ready to take on the next dish!


When hunger hits mid-morning, drop by a street vendor for an arepa, cornmeal cake hot off a grill, slathered with butter and stuffed with cheese.  Add chicken for protein, or search out the yellow colored arepa con maiz dulce, the sweet corn flavor adding a nice contrast to the traditional cheese.


Lunch in Colombia is the heaviest meal of the day, served around one in the afternoon.  In this spirit, try the bandeja paisa, a traditional dish from the coffee-growing region.  This dish represents a mixture of native and Colonial cuisine, including: sausages, arepa, white rice, ground beef, chicharron (pork rinds), patacon (plantain), fried egg, red beans, and avocado.  Unless you´re really, really hungry, the junior size will probably suffice.  Traditionally, the paisa will accompany this lunch with a fresh-squeezed, sweet lemonade.



Now that you´ve loaded up on proteins, search out a lighter dinner of ajiaco soup.  Basically chicken soup broth with three types of potatoes, chicken, corn, and a little cream, ajiaco is one of the most internationally famous dishes Bogota offers.


A mainstay of Colombian desserts is something they refer to as arequipe, which in Argentina is called dulce de leche, and where I come from in the States, we call caramel.   Made from sweetened milk and sugar, arequipe covers brownies, fills pastry puffs and caramelized fruits, or comes on it`s own in individual size cups.  If you´re out in a plaza, find an oblea vendor for a round wafer covered in arequipe and jam, and, if you´re up for it, a sprinkling of hand-made cheese.

Tonight, you can go to bed full and happy—you´ve seen a lot of Colombia through your stomach!

Jordan Felker Written by:

Who would have thought that the girl who spent the summers in her basement reading would find herself hopping countries, speaking Korean and Spanish with taxi drivers, and eating red stew from a pot that spewed fishtails and tentacles? When Jordan graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies, she took it with her to teach EFL, realizing somewhere along the way that she really loved to teach. Now a high school English teacher, EFL tutor, and freelance writer, Jordan spends her free time trying to forget that she´s actually an American by dancing salsa and eating with chopsticks.