Colombia is where I started my big South American adventure last year and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Luckily my local guide let my appetite lead the way through every meal, market and farm (thanks Hector). As usual I had the best fun, and learnt the most about the country, culture and people through eating. And these are the food rules I learnt along the way.
1. Put avocadoes on and in everything
The running joke in Australia is that millennials can’t afford mortgages because they spend all their money on (expensive) smashed avocado on toast. This is clearly not an issue in Colombia because avocados are not only cheap they are MASSIVE. One could feed an entire family. Twice. That explains why avocados can be found in every meal. Having said that I did find the larger the avocado the less flavoursome it was. A bit like prawns. But they certainly made light work of guacamole.
2. Colombian ceviche is…. Different
I’m all for experimentation and new flavour combos. But some things are perfect the way they are and one of those things is ceviche. The original dish created in Peru is simply raw fish/seafood marinated and ‘cooked’ by fresh citrus juice, with a few accoutrements like coriander, red onion, tomato and fried corn. I have to admit I was horrified to order it in Colombia and find it doused in tomato sauce, i.e. ketchup! Why, WHY????? It killed it for me.
3. So many fruits, so little time
I was blown away by how many different fruits exist in Colombia. I tried to get a handle on them all by taking photos of each and making lists and eventually gave up. It’s such a tease as most can’t be found elsewhere. Especially not Australia. Guana’bana, curuba, tomate de arbol, mamoncillo, chirimoya…. How I miss you all! And the best part was picking up freshly chopped fruit on any street corner for next to nothing. It’s an outrage that I now have to cut up my own mango every day.
4. There’s fruit and there’s fruit juice
Fruit juice is expensive in Australia so I always regard it as a luxury. It’s the opposite in Colombia where fruit is cheap and plentiful and fresh juice is a meal staple. Colombians eat a lot of heavy fried food so I honestly believe it’s the juice that keeps them in check. My absolute favourite was lulada made from lulo – a fruit only found in Colombia and Ecuador where it’s called naranjilla. Sweet, tangy and fresh, I drank it constantly. Perfect in cocktails too!
o5. That little bit extra
Hector introduced me to the concept of ñapa, or ‘that little bit extra’. It’s the lulada left in the blender which the vendor uses to top up your cup once you’ve made some room. The extra serve of soup at the markets. A couple of extra maracuyá over the kilo because, well why not? It says a lot about the spirit of generosity that lives inside a lot of Colombians which warmed my heart whenever I experienced it. Read More