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Top 5 Best and Worst Colombian Foods

Posted by on in Colombian Culture
If you ask travelers what they think of the food in Colombia, you’ll most likely get a mixed response. Some claim Colombia’s cuisine is the perfect match of quantity and quality while others are put off by the lack of nuance. For sure, refined, delicate gastronomy isn’t Colombia’s strong point but natural, big and unprocessed meals are.A lot also depends on where you go. People can stay in a city like Bogotá for weeks without hitting the right restaurants in Colombia, desperate to save money, and because of this their scope is limited. If you’re willing to fork out US$5 or a little more you’ll find an abundance of delicious options.

With all this said, there are some things that just work and others that just don’t. Today I give you my top 5 best and worst Colombian foods (not including fruits, they’re obviously all delicious).BEST


1.    Soups




[caption id="attachment_201" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Ajiaco Ajiaco


Soups are somewhat of a specialty in Colombia. The Ajiaco, by description, may just sound like a normal chicken and potato soup, but somehow it rises above the sum of its parts. The Sancocho may just sound like a mixed grill in a soup and… well, it is, and that’s pretty great, right? And the caldo de costilla is ribs in a soup. If it’s not sophisticated it doesn’t matter, it’s damn tasty.

2.    Meat




[caption id="attachment_202" align="aligncenter" width="264"]A big slab of Colombian meat A big slab of Colombian meat


Many people talk about Argentina as the capital of steak but Colombian meats aren’t too far away and, in some cases, they’re even better. Even cheap meat (we’re talking a lunch that costs less than US$2) is pretty good, and if you’re willing to pay, places like Andres Carne de Res will cook you up a plate of meat you’ll never forget. Be warned, though, if you like you meat rare you will have to emphasise this strongly.

3.    Bandeja Paisa




[caption id="attachment_203" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bandeja Paisa Bandeja Paisa


The bandeja paisa kind of typifies what you find in Colombian cuisine: more is more. Chicharron, sausage, egg, beans, guacamole, shredded meat, rice, plantain and sometimes even more will adorn your plate before, and probably after you’re full.

4.    Tamal




[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="240"]Tamal Tamal


Tamal is basically masa, chicken and sometimes vegetables. Colombia’s tamales are wrapped in a plantain leaf and generally softer and brighter than their other Latin American counterparts. Tamales are great for a hangover, or for a quick, cheap, filling snack around lunch time.

5.    Papas criollas




[caption id="attachment_205" align="aligncenter" width="217"]Papas Criollas Papas Criollas


My favourite type of papa criolla is the one planted at the top of a shish kebab, which you can find all over the streets of Colombia. Again, not a refined option but some of the best street food available. Papa criollas are little potatoes, often saltier than we might have them in Europe, and somehow they just manage to be better. I can’t tell you how, I can just tell you to try them.

WORST

1.    Arepas




[caption id="attachment_206" align="aligncenter" width="299"]Arepas Arepas


There are some decent arepas, it’s true, like arepa with egg. Overall, however, arepas are so bland, even smothered in salt and butter, that they’re a snack to be tried and avoided. They’ve earned their position as number one simply because they’re cherished so much; they don’t actually taste of enough to be disgusting… Which in some ways is worse.

2.    Ice cream with cheese


I’m sure you can imagine why this is on the list thanks to the title. It’s ice cream - which is great - fruit, chocolate sauce and cheese. Why?

3.    Platano




[caption id="attachment_207" align="aligncenter" width="240"]Platano on meat Platano on meat


A controversial one, but frankly you have to get bored of eating plantain meal after meal after meal. It falls in an awkward category between sweet and savoury and, thanks to its ubiquity, just gets boring and a bit yucky. Patacon, on the other hand, yum.

4.    Bread


Ok bread is hardly a Colombian food, but I’m struggling since the food is generally pretty good. Bread, though, is sweaty, too sugary and often ruins a sandwich. If you want good bread there are places to go, however. Most good restaurants won’t let you down, and there’s a decent selection of French bread in Carulla.

5.   Pizza with jam


To be honest, the pizzas here are generally of a high quality. Sometimes, however, they come with jam in the crust, and that's just not good. That's just not good.

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