WorldTeach volunteer Rebecca gives us a taste of Colombian cooking.

The first topic that I’ve been wanting to post about is all the food here. I came here expecting that I wouldn’t like the food and that maybe I’d even lose some weight….boy was I wrong. Cartagena knows how to eat well! There are foods here that I wouldn’t imagine I would enjoy and foods here that I wouldn’t even imagine existed.

I am going to attempt to post about some of the delicious foods that I’ve tried here in all of their cultural uniqueness.

First up: Arepa de Huevo. A wonderfully fried arepa (a corn based..something…) with an egg inside. Put some sauces on it and its even more delicious. Makes a good breakfast…or really late night snack.

Another thing you can do with an arepa is grill it, open it up, and stuff it with meat and sauces. My favorite is Arepa de Pollo. It’s filled with chicken and sauces like salsa de pina, salsa de ajo, some papitas. I’m actually not even sure what else is in there…but it’s good…and “healthier”.

Rice….eaten in Colombia. Not that exciting on it’s own. But Cartagena does Rice like no one else. Arroz de Coco. Yes- coconut rice. And if it is made by a true Cartagenero, it is probably the most delicious thing ever. There are many different versions of Coconut Rice and a lot of depends on how its cooked. But none the less, if you are eating fish you are probably eating coconut rice also.

Speaking of fish… living in Cartagena means living near the ocean and living near the ocean means “beach lunch”. This is a phrase you hear often. If you are eating beach lunch you are eating fried fish…coconut rice, patacones, and maybe a small salad. This is something I never thought I’d even try nevermind actually enjoy. But, my host family has this lunch every Saturday and I find myself looking forward to it every week.

Anddd…Patacones. One of my favorite things here. And yet, another fried favorite (seeing a trend?) These are cut up pieces of plantains (Plantain Verde…not the sweet kind). The plantains are fried, then dipped in a garlic sauce, flattened, fried again, and then salt is added to them. That’s all there is to it, but they are delicious!

A staple food item in Cartagena are empanadas. These are also made from a corn something covering and filled with pretty much whatever you want to put inside. Typically you find cheese, meat, or chicken empanadas. I prefer chicken..especially when you know where to find the ones that have chicken and potatoes in them. Yum! These make a good snack.

Sancocho: Another Colombian favorite. Not necessarily my favorite, but something I eat every now and then. Soup is something that is eaten almost everyday at lunch….which boggles my mind because it’s so hot here. But, I don’t question it. The people here will eat many different types of soup: fish soup, chicken soup, egg soup, bone soup, etc. but the favorite is Sancocho. It basically is a broth with different types of meat in it- big chunks. And then big pieces of plantain, potato, and yuca, and then a piece of an ear of corn.

And last but not least- Jugos Naturales. This could probably have it’s own post. Natural Juices. Colombians drink natural fruit juice every single day. It typically comes with your lunch. Especially in Cartagena there is an abundance of fruits. It is FAR more common to see someone drinking a natural juice than it is to actually see some eating a piece of fruit. There are so many fruits here that I have never heard of and I’ve tried most of them in juice form. You can get them in milk or in water and with or without sugar. However, you have to know which ones are acidic to know whether you need sugar or not, and you start to learn which ones taste better in milk vs. water. However, if you know me, you know I’ve never tried any in milk. My all time favorite is Maracuya. Here are some others I’ve tried: Mora, Nispero, Guanábana, Guayaba, Lulo, Mango, Pina, Tomate de Arbol, Zapote, Cereza, y Fresa.

-WorldTeach Colombia volunteer Rebecca
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