The day I got here, Alberto, a man I met in Brasil last summer took me to the Pollo King, a local restaurant in the small town of Cajica, north of Bogota for what he said was traditional Colombian comida. While it was being prepared we drank cold Colombian beers. It was a good start.
In a short time, the waiter presented us with a large platter containing a whole, either boiled or steamed, pale, wan chicken, a color maybe indicating the chicken didn’t feel well before it was killed for we want our dead to appear robust, and a few yokes from undeveloped eggs which I’ve discovered are pretty common, but no head or feet, which I was thankful for.
The chicken was served with plantains and yucca, the latter pretty bland on its own, but this was covered with a sticky, savory sauce that made it delicious as gravy or sweet butter does to mashed potatoes. That night and the following morning at his finca, or farm, in the town of San Francisco, we had a variety of fresh fruit and rolls with delicious Colombian coffee.
The next afternoon I ate spinach empanadas at the restaurant inside a large supermarket. The following day for lunch I ordered a very flavorful bowl of soup. The meat I believed to be chicken turned out to be intestines, chewy and for me, difficult to swallow. Although I’m willing to try many things, and have, including well prepared insects,I cant bring myself to eat innards, coagulated blood floating in soup, the muscle behind the eye of any fish, pig snout, or chicken feet. So I’m a pussy.
At Angela’s lovely home we had a hearty and tasty version of tamales with rice and chicken steamed in banana leaves. The Colombian pizza I had a few nights ago had a layer of fresh tomatoes and capers under the cheese. It took me a minute to identify the capers. And, of course the piranha. Today for almuerzo or lunch, which is a set price for either fish, chicken, or beef, rice, cooked banana, a drink and soup, I ordered another fish. It was crispy and a bit too salty and dry for my taste.
Rice, manioc, plantain, and potatoes are the most common starches. Bananas are prepared in ways I never thought of. Yesterday I bought a banana that was split down the center, filled with cheese, and grilled. It cost 2 mil, or about $1.20. I ate a few bites, wasn’t impressed, pulled the cheese out and ate it. I offered the banana to a hungry bitch with swollen nipples that was foraging for food on the street, but she declined my offer.
Here at Entropika we cook our food so since Thomas is Belgian, Luisa Colombian, and me an Irish Mongrel, anything is possible. One of the geogology students at the park that I share the kitchen with ask me last week of I had eaten romalachas. After a couple of rounds of twenty questions, they produced a beet. ” Me gusta romalachas, mucho, I declared enthusiastically. So, inspired by the unrelenting heat, and to the delight of Tomas and Luisa I made cold beet borsht. When I go back to the park next week I’m taking the ingredients, and the students are going to help me make a big pot for everyone. My favorite part of traveling is the sharing of cultures, and what better sharing is there than food which comes from our hearts, our ancestors, our gardens, and gives of ourselves.
There are countless tropical fruits here that I’ve never seen before, much less tasted:Lolo or maybe lulu, Borojo de Monte, Quinilla, Anonilla, Mata Mata, surba, Acapu, Caimitillo…and more. I’ll keep you posted. Bon Appetite.