Colombian Eats – the final episode
Although I worked for a company involved in fitness and health, I only made it to the gym twice while in Colombia. I definitely gained weight from the consistent diet of delicious meat, starch and cheese. I didn’t document everything I ate since I was in Bogota for business, but did my best.
One of the things that surprised me most was the fact that urban Colombians have such an international diet (and lifestyle). Many have lived, studied or worked abroad (obviously I was only exposed to the upper classes/strata) and there is plenty of non-Colombian food available (unlike countries such as Thailand where it seems the non-Thai food is more for travelers and ex-pats). There are lot of non-Colombian restaurants that Colombians frequent. Beyond the typical Colombian fare, we had Asian/Greek, Asian, Italian, typical bar food, burgers and Peruvian…but we really tried to eat what the locals ate.
Bogota Beer Company is a ubiquitous micro-brew chain in Bogota. There is seriously one around every corner…but they brew their own beer! Below is a porter (yum!) I had with four mini burgers (which weren’t very good):
I was also curious about Colombian interpretations of Asian food. While we didn’t go into the hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant called “Fung Wha” around the corner from our office, we did go to Wok, another ubiquitous chain in Bogota. There’s an overwhelming mix of all types of Asian food: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, etc. We ordered banh xeo (a Vietnamese crepe) and khao soy (Northern Thai coconut noodles). The banh xeo had the familiar yellow pancake exterior but tasted more like pad thai in the middle…still tasty, though.
The khao soy (below) did not taste very much like the khao soy I had in Chiang Mai back in December, but everyone else seemed to like it. This meal was followed by a 35-block walk home (Colombians generally don’t walk, but we wanted to see more than just the office) marked by intestinal distress. Nobody else got sick afterward and so I blame it on the tap water I ordered (tap water is generally fine in Colombia, btw).
On our final day in the office, we had a paisa lunch. Grilled skirt steak, roasted potato, scoop of rice, and plaintain with cheese. It was the lightest thing we could find on the menu:
On our last day in Colombia, our hosts took us out to the countryside, where local urbanites go to escape the city. Ten of us stopped for plates of grilled chicken & steak, 2 kinds of sausages (blood & rice was my favorite), potatoes, plaintains, 2 types of arepas (cheese-stuffed corn cakes), and corn which we ate with our hands. It is no wonder I gained so much weight, but our last lunch in Colombia was a delicious mix of gorgeous scenery, warm sun and delightful company.
Our final stop of the day was for pan de yuca, which had a similar texture to Brazilian pao de queijo. The Colombian version is made with yuca while Brazil’s is made with tapioca…which, based on some quick internet research, is the same thing. So good, fresh and cheesy. This place is famous for their pan de yuca but they also had empanadas and almojabanas, another Colombian cheesebread.
I think yuca is the same as tapioca…so maybe it is the same thing but different shape?