The South American coffee capitol has such a wide range of altitudes and climates that they can just about grow anything at anytime. But Colombia is even richer in tradition than it is in agriculture. Some say that's because they guard their cultural treasures carefully.
Columbian food has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Lunch almost always starts with a soup. But that doesn't mean Colombians have no variety. Rugged mountain terrain has allowed separate areas to develop distinct identities over thousands of years. If you travel from a city to village to another village, you'll find three different trademark crafts, three different ways of cooking sancocho, and three entirely different views of this beautiful country.
Join us to think beyond coffee for a taste of the many recipes that Colombia has to offer. And if you can share some Colombian recipes of your own, please do. Variety is the spice of life!
Points of Interest
While coffee is Colombia's principal crop, other ingredients are staples too. Two of these corn and potatoes are mixed with chicken, cream, capers and avocado for Colombian Ajiaco.
Corn is used to make Arepa, the national bread. It is a slightly sweet, baked or fried cornmeal cake that is crispy outside, doughy inside, and often filled with meat or cheese. In Colombia, empanadas, usually made with wheat, are made with corn as well.
Colombian dishes are seasoned with pungent flavors that include onions, curry, achiote or annatto seeds, cumin, very small hot chilies (ajíes), and Hogao, a seasoning mixture of tomato, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro.
Queso blanco (white farmer's cheese) is a very common fresh cow's milk cheese that varies in consistency and saltiness. It's used on a daily basis and sold in 30-pound blocks at some supermarkets so it can be purchased in any quantity.
Colombians eat fruit every day. There are the traditionals: bananas, guavas, pineapples, papayas, mangos, and carambolas (star fruit)and exotics feijoa (small guavas), lulos (orange fruit with tart green pulp), and uchuvas (sweet-tart yellow gooseberries)to name just a few.
No Colombian meal is complete unless it contains two starches. Rice is always served along with plantains, potatoes, beans, lentils, or yuca (cassava). These side dishes are consumed throughout the country with regional variations.
Colombia is the only country that grows sugar cane year-round. Combine that with the variety of fruits and you have a delicious dessert for every occasion. Borracho, or Drunken Cake, is a favorite made by soaking sponge or pound cake layers in rum syrup and filling and frosting it with rum-soaked prunes and creme anglaise.
Along the coastal areas, fish, seafood, rice, lentils, and coconut are kitchen staples. Coconut Rice, is very popular side dish, served with fish and other seafood.
Another coastal classic is Fish Baked in Creamy Milk Sauce with Onions & Herbs, baked or pan-fried shad or haddock fillets topped with a light sauce of milk or coconut milk flavored with onion, garlic, and other seasonings.