For some reason while thinking about writing this story yesterday, my friend Armando in Germany popped into my head and I could hear his voice saying "Your blog's mostly about food, right?" I'd like to think not but, in his honor, and as a way to thank Diana's mom and dad for all the great food we ate together in Colombia, here's Part 2 of my ode to Colombian food! (And, if you're interested, you can read the first one I wrote a little while ago.)
Note that these food photos aren't in any particular order...
First up is a photo that I used in the story about visiting Tierra Caliente near Bogota a couple of months ago. Diana's friend Angelica's in-laws own a small second home out there and they served us up this Sancocho stew (on the right), which has yucca, plantain (non-sweet banana), and corn all grown in their garden along with (cow) meat, pork, potato, and cilantro. The other plate has rice, avocado (also grown in their garden), and gallo (rooster) leg and thigh meat. The small bowl is filled with home-made aji (Colombian salsa), which was delish! Oh, and this was just my serving of lunch!
For desert that day, they served Jalea de Guayaba (guava sauce) along with a serving of soft, homemade (farmer) cheese. It's a strange (for me) combination even if I've had it before many times but it makes for a great dessert.
Probably my favorite Colombian food, other the Bandeja Paisa, is Ajiaco (ahh-hee-ahh-koh), which is a potato-based soup that has corn, chicken, and avocados in it. Ajiaco is a local-Bogota specialty and this version, which Diana's mom made, also has cream poured in it and is topped with capers. Just looking at this photo makes my mouth water!
While we were out in Chiquinquira with my dad, we stopped at a nearby Piqueteadero restaurant, which we had gone to before with Diana's folks. Piquetear basically means "chopped" and all the food is served chopped into small pieces that are often eaten with a toothpick. It's always some combination of carne asada, sausages including Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), potatoes, arepas, and sometimes some other ingredients mixed in. It's not the healthiest of meals, I'm told, but who cares! It's definitely one of the best meals in Colombia.
Thank you but aren't you going to order something for yourself???
Diana's mom makes a homemade picada that uses only ingredients from the neighborhood markets. She often fries up chorizo, which is doubly evil. I think she'd cook this every day if I wanted since she knows that I love it but I'm sure that I'd weigh 400 pounds within six months and my blood would look something like poutine...
When we drive out to the farm in Chiquinquira, we sometimes stop for breakfast in a small town called Ubate and eat in the main plaza. They have a bunch of independently-owned stall restaurants each with picnic-style tables and chairs. To a foreigner (like me), they're a bit sketchy looking and they make you wonder if it's okay to eat there. But, just like in most places in the world, the street food's often the best.
One of the stands sells a corn-based Mute stew that's to die for. We took my dad there when he was in town and he was a bit apprehensive due to the setting but I think he enjoyed the flavor. This Mute is made with "cold country" corn (not that I'd know the difference but it's supposedly not as good as "warm country" corn - whatever) and is made with cow's foot (yes, cow's foot - damn good!), peas, carrots, and potatoes. It's definitely one of my favorite Colombian foods. When we go, I usually order TWO bowls!
I have to admit that, when we go out to a restaurant, I usually order a Bandeja Paisa since it's so addictive. But one day Diana pushed me to order something different so I asked the waiter what he recommended and he said the Costilla de Cerdo (pork ribs). This one was awesome! It had pork-rib meat that was super tender and it was covered with Hogado sauce, which is sorta' like a Mexican-style chunky salsa that's served warm, along with rice, peas, corn, yucca, avocado, and platano.
(Diana just looked over my shoulder at the photo below and asked me how I could show her photos of this delicious food around dinner time. Funny!)
That's it for my overview of Colombian food as I left Bogota last week. Again, just like last time, a big thank you to Diana's entire family for taking care of my every need while I was there (even ones I didn't know I had). Diana's mom and dad were awesome and made it super difficult to leave.
Fidu - I'll miss your company, your amazing food, and your eternal patience with my laughable Spanish. Juaco - I'll miss our walks around the neighborhood and our daily coffee klatch. To Diana's 152 brothers and sisters, you guys are awesome even if I haven't learned all your names yet! (That's a joke by the way.) Thanks for looking after me and making sure that I'm happy!
I'll leave this post and my most recent trip to Colombia with this photo of us buying Aromaticas in the street a couple of months ago. Aromaticas are a fruit-based drink that have different spices added. They're sorta' like a sweet version of mulled spice wine but without the wine, if that makes sense. I remember this day being particularly nice and that we had a fun time.
Ciao Fidu, Juaco, y toda la familia! Muchas, muchas gracias y nos vemos pronto! Les voy a extrañar!