Before coming to Colombia, I only had a vague idea of what the food would be like. I had it once while in Barcelona last year but I really don't remember that meal too well. I guess at some level I expected a version of Mexican food. I don't know why, I just did.
Well, as a public service for my fellow Americans, Colombian food is generally a meat-and-potatoes affair, at least in the parts of the country that I've been to. Pretty much every meal has a protein like fish, chicken, or steak along with rice or potato or both. Instead of tortillas or bread, they serve arepas, which are a type of thick white-corn tortilla much like sopes in Mexico. You don't get beans very often and the food's not spicy. Don't get me wrong, the food is great but I hadn't really found that one "to-die-for" meal until...
Just like the state motto of California: Eureka, I have found it! My new Colombian-food addiction. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Bandeja Paisa:
The Bandeja Paisa is a traditional meal served in the Paisa region, which includes both Medellin and the coffee area. It gets its name from the large plate that it's served on, which is called a bandeja in Spanish. The "Paisa Plate" is, as you can see, fairly large and is generally made up of: white rice, beans, ground beef, chicharon (deep-fried pork rind), a pan-fried plantain (a not-very-sweet banana), a fried egg, chorizo (sausage), a slice of avocado, and an arepa. The ingredients are always the same but the flavor varies by location. This is another Bandeja Paisa I had in Bogotá recently: