When I first visited Colombia in 2016 I’d heard mixed reviews gastronomically and wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. However from a culinary perspective I’ve been pleasantly surprised both by the staple foods and typical dishes and also the innumerable snacks on offer on every street corner. These treats and new things to nibble on are so affordable that it’s become a daily occurrence for me and every Colombian knows the best snacks come from the street and the best Meringon for example comes from the back of a car! Cocadas, Milojas, Obleas, you name a sugary treat and I’m sure I´ll have tried it. As for main dishes I was initially worried about a lack of spice but not to worry there is moderately hot Aji sauce in most establishments and a trip to a fruit and vegetable market might result in you chancing upon some of the really hot stuff to purchase.
One of my favourite things is the huge selection of fruits not readily available in Europe! Lulo, Guanabana Granadilla, Pitahaya and the countless combinations of juices available fresh for next to nothing, just make sure you mention not too much sugar if you want to keep your own teeth for the next few years! Same with the coffee, Colombians like things sweet so watch out! They also love the combination of sweet and savoury, sometimes there is an appeal in the contrast. The famous Bocadillo (made with guava pulp and panela) and Queso (cheese) has grown on me. However hot chocolate with cheese and eggs with honey have yet to appeal. Rice boiled in water and coca cola was possibly the most unusual thing I tasted but was actually great and to my surprise not too sweet. Agua de Panela is a staple drink which I enjoy with lemon but not without and some Colombian snacks and meals have now become essential for me, platano chips, empanadas, buñuelos and home cooked meals; changwa and caldo for example. I’ve also grown partial to a typical Colombian breakfast!
Even as a vegetarian there are more options than I expected and once you’ve managed to get someone to understand that you cannot eat pork or chicken or fish etc you can always get them to list the other options and pick and choose from those. I’ve eaten plenty of vegetarian “Menu del Dia” meaning menu of the day; typically a cheap but tasty dish consisting of rice, eggs, beans, plantain, avocado, salad etc and including juice or natural lemonade. (Tip: make sure you try the delicious coconut lemonade!) Whatever your culinary tastes I’m sure there’s something for everyone with Colombian Gastronomy!