1.) Limonada de Coco- Made popular in Cartagena, this is the most delightful “lemonade” you will ever have. It’s just blended ice, lime juice, sugar, and coconut milk! Frothy and light, this beverage will save you in the Cartagena heat.
2.) Chicharron & Chicharrones- There is a difference between the two and you need to have both. Chicharrones are basically the common pork rinds you can find in the United States snack aisles. Chicharron is like a fat slab of bacon- just as bad for you as it is tasty. It is portioned into long strips that are about an inch thick and commonly served with rice, beans, a fried egg, and fried plantains for a Bandeja Paisa meal.
3.) Patacones- Colombians know every way to cook a plantain but this is probably the most common. They take green plantains and smash them into patties that are then fried in oil. Smear them with a little guacamole or another sauce of your choosing and they are quite delightful!
4.) Arepas- Easy, peasy arepas. These little corn meal patties are amazing at every time of day. They are typically served with a fat slab of queso on the top, but are also great with a little butter. Be warned- there are good arepas and bad arepas. Most restaurants will put a little basket of them out and they look like white macarons. These are terrible. So bad that we never understood why the restaurants would serve them. The good ones are larger, flatter, and golden in color. Eat them hot!
5.) Empanadas- This food is so spectacular and affordable in Colombia that I actually found empanadas to be my least favorite- but they are very proud of them! This is very popular street fare and easy to eat on the go, but not much different than getting empanadas anywhere else. I will say, they do love their sauces and it’s very typical to stand there and squirt them on each bite! Bunuelos are also very popular in Colombia, but to me they still didn’t compare to many of the other amazing foods.
6.) Avena- Holy Moses. This was love at first sip for me. I was introduced to this by my walking food tour guide, Joshua, from Real City Tours. This is an oatmeal drink that tastes like the leftover milk from Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I will say, no two avenas are the same. Restaurants make their own- which I prefer this homemade style- but it can also be purchased in little portable plastic cups at convenience stores. Every time I saw a new one I tried it.
7.) Natuchip Platanos Maduros- I am devastated I cannot find a way to buy these online and ship them to the USA. These little chips are just thin pressed plantains, fried like a chip, and bagged. They are a little salty and a little sweet, but ultimately feel a lot lighter and less greasy than eating a bag of potato chips. I brought home one bag and don’t have the heart to open it!
8.) Naranja Postobon- For some reason when I travel, I crave orange pop. I never get it at home. Maybe I just need a sugar boost or I’m just heat exhausted because I always travel to blazing climates (like the Dead Sea). There are a few orange pop brands, including Fanta, available in Colombia but the domestic brand Postobon is by far the best.
9.) Granadillas- This exotic fruit might look and feel bizarre, but it was a true delicacy whenever I could get my hands on it. In the passion fruit family, this fist-sized fruit cracks open with the poke of a finger and spills out seeds that resemble caviar. The inside is slimy and ugly, but extremely sweet and delicious. They were a little challenging to find and definitely more expensive than most other fruits in the market. When you find them, get a few and have a napkin ready!
This is only a taste of all the wonderful food Colombia has to offer. As far as culinary experiences, this is by far one of my top 3 countries for foodies.