Can you eat ants in a soup?

Eating in Colombia - 21 typical Colombian dishes that you should try

21 things you should definitely try in Colombia

At first glance, the food in Colombia is not particularly varied. The typical comida corriente, which can be found all over the country, consists mostly of a piece of meat, in the coastal region also fish. There is also coconut rice and patacones (fried plantains). But if you delve a little deeper into Colombian cuisine, you will find that it is strongly regional and very diverse.

So you can find freshly caught trout in the mountains and that Churrasco in Los Llanos can definitely keep up with the one in Argentina. In Medellin, they rely on hearty home cooking and serve, for example, the Bandeja Paisaconsisting of meat, sausages, black beans and avocados. A classic in Bogota is Ajiaco, a hearty chicken soup that is eaten with rice and avocado. The round corn pancakes Arepas are a classic across the country. In addition, there are sweets in abundance in Colombia. Baked bananas, rice pudding, cream cheese with caramel syrup and churros, as well as wafers topped with all kinds of sweets are particularly popular in Cartagena. In addition, you can find wonderful street food not only in metropolises like Bangkok or New York. There is also really creative street food in Colombia, and not just in Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena. Simple saucepans and bicycles or mopeds with a grill are transformed into grilled corn on the cob that is deep-fried Cheese balls Buñuelos, but also Tamales, Empanadas and much more sold.

If you really want to immerse yourself in Colombian cuisine, I recommend taking a food tour in Bogota. With the enchanting Youlie, you will learn everything about Colombian cuisine on the culinary tour through Bogota and you will definitely be fat too afterwards. Whether on a tour or just like that, you should definitely try the following 21 dishes and drinks in Colombia.

1. Food in Colombia - Arepas

Arepas are small, thick corn cakes, which rich and poor in Colombia eat for breakfast and actually with every meal. You can really buy Arepas on every street corner. The deep-fried or baked cornbread does not have that much taste in itself, so it is often served with spicy dishes or sold as street food filled with avocado, minced meat, cheese or vegetables. Arepas filled with eggs and minced meat are very typical of the Caribbean coast.

2. Food in Colombia - Sancocho de Gallina

It is also a very traditional dish Sancocho, a hearty soup made from potatoes, cassava, corn, plantains, coriander and (chicken) meat, which is made with arepas, avocado, rice, lime and Salsa de aji (a typical Colombian pepper sauce) is served. On the coast, the soup is also often refined with fish and as Sancocho de Pescado served. The Colombians swear by Sancocho when they have a bad hangover, it is said to have healing properties.

3. Food in Colombia - Ajiaco Santaferena

Colombians love soups. So too Ajiaco Santaferena, a traditional chicken soup with corn and three different types of potatoes, as well Guascas (Button or French herb), an aromatic spice that gives the soup its typical taste. The soup gets its yellow color from the extremely floury variety of potatoes Papa Criollathat disintegrates completely when cooked. The soup is named after the former capital of Colombia - Santa Fe de Bogota - and is considered a national dish. The Colombian chicken stew is served with rice, sour cream, avocado, arepa, capers and plantains. Depending on your taste, you can eat the side dishes separately or mix them directly into the soup.

4. Food in Colombia - Bandeja Paisa

The Bandeja Paisa, a very extensive meat dish, was originally the food of the hard-working Colombian population. The filling meal consists of black sausage, fried pork rind, chorizo ​​and other meat with a fried egg. This is served with rice, patacones (plantains), arepas (corn flatbread), beans and avocado. Today you eat the Bandeja Paisa as lunch on special occasions or just when you are really hungry.

5. Food in Colombia - Tamales

Tamales can be found all over Central America, including Colombia. Here, in addition to tamales, they are also made Hallacas called. A tamale consists of Masa, a corn dough that is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves along with meat, rice, vegetables, cheese and other ingredients and steamed until the dough has a cake-like consistency.

Tamales are one of the most popular dishes in Colombia. However, since the production is quite complex, the dish is mainly eaten on Sundays or on holidays. In the Antioquia region, these are also eaten at Christmas and New Years. Many small restaurants in Bogota serve tamales with arepa and hot chocolate.

6. Food in Colombia - empanadas

Empanadas can be found on every street corner in South America. You can find the delicious dumplings as an accompaniment to an aperitif, as a main course in restaurants or as a snack at the street food stands. The fillings are as varied as the country itself. Beef, chicken, cheese, potatoes, vegetables or rice. The imagination knows no limits. The empanadas are made from wheat flour or corn flour, baked crispy or soft. By the way, empanadas only means “breaded”, what is hidden behind the breading is always the big secret.

7. Food in Colombia - Hormigas culonas

The ones that are so typical of the Santander region take a bit of getting used to Hormigas culonas, Leaf cutter ants. The ants are roasted, salted, and then nibbled like nuts. The crispy, sour-tasting ants are considered an absolute delicacy in Colombia and are also relatively expensive. This is also due to the fact that these can only be collected during Easter, when the young queens and males come to the surface after heavy rain to build their own ant burrows.

8. Food in Colombia - tropical fruits

There are only a few countries in the world where you can find more tropical fruits than in Colombia. However, this is not surprising given the enormous diversity of species in the plant world. Allegedly there are 486 different fruits in Colombia. Fruit is not only produced in Colombia for export, it is one of the country's main sources of food. Colombia has the second highest per capita consumption of fruit juices after New Zealand. On every street corner in Colombia you will find stalls selling wonderfully fresh coconuts, smoothies and fresh fruit, already cut into bite-sized bites.

In addition to well-known tropical fruits such as coconuts, Cape gooseberries, dragon fruits, bananas, mangoes, guavas or passion fruit, you will also find completely unknown fruits in this country with melodious names such as granadilla, mamoncillo, the Andean berry mora or lulo.

In the southwest of Colombia, lulo, crushed corn, panela, as well as cloves, cinnamon and the blossoms of the orange tree are made into the tasty drink Champus while in the Valle del Cauca on the Pacific Ocean you can get a delicious smoothie called Lulos from Lulos Lulada which you should definitely try.

9. Food in Colombia - Mote de Queso

Mote de Queso is a soup that can be found all over the Colombian Caribbean coast, but especially in Cartagena. This traditional soup comes with Surname (a vegetable similar to the yam root) and the crumbly, salted one Queso Costeño (similar to our feta). Even without meat, the thick, creamy soup is very rich and filling. In addition, rice and avocado are traditionally served. So not a light starter, but definitely a main course after you don't need anything else. The Mote de Queso in Espiritu Santo in Cartagena is particularly tasty.

10. Food in Colombia - Pandebono

Another very popular street food in Colombia are Pandebono, small round cornbreads with cheese flavor. They are available all day as a snack, and served warm with hot chocolate for breakfast.

11. Food in Colombia - Cazuela de mariscos

The cazuela de mariscos, a seafood stew, is mainly found on the coast of Colombia, such as on the Islas del Rosario, but also on Providencia. It is hardly surprising, because this is where you get the fresh seafood that ends up in the Cazuela de Mariscos along with coconut milk, vegetables and spices. The stew tastes best in one of the beach restaurants with a view of the sea.

12. Food in Colombia - fresh lobster

In addition to Cazuela de mariscos, you will also find freshly caught lobster, which is prepared in the small bars on the beach, especially on the Islas del Rosario and on Providencia. They too taste wonderful with a view of the sea and are also relatively cheap. A popular food fish is the Mojarra, which is also served fresh from the grill with coconut rice and patacones in the restaurants on the Caribbean coast and on the islands.

13. Food in Colombia - Patacones

Patacones, fried plantains, are one of the most popular side dishes in all of Colombia. They are really served with almost every dish, whether with fried fish and seafood on the Caribbean coast or with grilled meat, as well as with the popular soups or Colombian guacamole. So that the patacones turn out perfectly, green plantains are used. These are cut into slices and deep-fried on both sides, then flattened and deep-fried a second time.

14. Food in Colombia - Arroz con Coco

Another very classic side dish is Arroz con Coco, Coconut rice. There are two versions of coconut rice, the simple white coconut rice that is served across the country and Arroz con titoté. This coconut rice with raisins is served with fish dishes on the Caribbean coast. It gets its typical brown color by boiling the coconut milk for around 30 minutes until it is heavily caramelized. Only then is the rice added to the caramelized mass, called titoté. Both versions are delicious and you should definitely try them.

15. Food in Colombia - Cuy

The Colombians are real meat eaters and in addition to beef, chicken and pork, far more exotic types of meat also end up on the grill. In the Narino region, guinea pigs or capybaras are called El Cuy or Capybara, a typical delicacy. The Inca already loved this meat and it still enjoys it today Cuy very popular in rural regions. You can also try this, for example, in Bogota in the Carbón D Leña restaurant. Trust yourself! It sounds a bit strange, but the meat, which is often prepared with peanut sauce, is really tasty.

16. Eating and drinking in Colombia - rum

Cartagena was once regularly haunted by pirates, also due to the rum production in the city. Even today, 80% of global rum production takes place in the Caribbean. Almost every island produces its own rum and you can also find really good rum in Colombia, for example Ron Dictador or the smoky tasting ones Ron Parce. This tastes wonderful on a muggy evening in Cartagena and then you turn night into day here. How you feel the next morning is a different matter - Colombian rum is a curse and a blessing at the same time.

17. Food and drink in Colombia - Aguardiente

At least as popular as the Ron is in Colombia Aguardiente, a schnapps made from anise and sugar cane. The name of the drink is made up of agua (Water and served (burning). Oh yes and it really burns, especially the homemade varieties, which you should keep your hands off of. In order to prevent the sale of home-made schnapps, the Aguardiente is now also sold in tetrapaks to reduce the risk of empty bottles being filled with home-made schnapps and sold.

18. Food and drink in Colombia - Chicha

The most important food in Colombia is maize and this is also used to make high-proof. The Incas, who made beer from fermented corn, already knew how. Today we know this under the name Chichawhich probably comes from the Kuna language and simply means corn. Chicha is popular today in the entire Andean region of South America, including Colombia. In the Amazon lowlands you can also find chicha variants, which are made from yucca or the fruits of the peach palm.

Once the raw materials used to make chicha were boiled, mashed and then (mostly by the women) chewed and put back into the pot. Then water was added and the fruit mass was wrung out and sieved. Then the drink was left to ferment for at least a day. Traditionally, the drink was kept in hardened bottle gourds. Chewing released salivary enzymes, which allowed the beer to ferment. For this reason the beer is still called today "The spit beer of the Andes". But don't worry, except among the indigenous peoples, Andean beer is no longer made in the mouth today, but by soaking and sprouting corn. But even today people first pour a sip of corn beer on the ground before drinking it. That is how you thank Pachamama (the mother earth) for the successful harvest and the nourishment.

19. Food and drink in Colombia - Limonada de Coco

One of the most popular soft drinks in Colombia, especially on the Caribbean coast between Cartagena and Santa Marta, is Limonada de Coco. And it's definitely my all-time favorite drink. It's no surprise, as I know, I love coconut smoothies in all variations. In addition to creamy coconut milk, the Limonada de Coco also includes lime juice and, if desired, more or less sugar. Together with crushed ice, the ingredients in the mixer become a wonderfully refreshing and thirst-quenching, but above all delicious drink that you can buy for little money from the sellers on the beach and the countless street food sellers.

20. Eating and drinking in Colombia - coffee

The most famous drink from Colombia is of course coffee. This is known all over South America as a classic "Tinto" (a small black already sugared coffee) drunk. It is called served with milk "Périco". Fortunately, the days when the best coffee in the country was exported and only the leftovers were drunk in the country are over. In Bogota and Medellin in particular, there are excellent cafes today, in which the baristas show all their skills and only end up with the best beans in the cup.

21. Food and drink in Colombia - Chocolate con queso

Hot chocolate made from the finest fine cocoa, water and a little sugar cane syrup is at least as popular as coffee - whether for breakfast or in the afternoon. But in Colombia you don't just drink hot chocolate, you dip cow's milk cheese in it or put the cheese in the cup to melt. Sounds strange, but it's wonderfully chocolaty and damn tasty.