It’s no surprise that when you live abroad, you are healthier because you eat better food. I could talk about this topic for hours because we try and eat this way in Canada. I say *try* because Canadian’s have come to complacently accept that food comes out of a can, box, or the freezer, complete with all the HFCS, salt, and chemical goodies that get added to food… so it’s very time consuming and expensive to eat naturally.

But eating naturally is not a problem in Colombia and it has a rich and interesting foodie scene that is still relatively undiscovered. I found a few foodie restaurants will serve Colombian dishes and European type food with a Colombian twist. I found no foodie places in the tourist areas, where there are lots of small restaurants that serve typical Colombian dishes and western favourites.

Ajiaco

This is a Bogota specialty made with chicken, three varieties of potatoes, and a herb known as guascas. It’s served with rice and a slice of avocado. The white stuff on top is suero, which is a fermented milk condiment (like yoghurt or sour cream) that comes from Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region.

Nearly every restaurant in La Candelaria serves ajiaco.

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Arepas

Arepas are a staple that you can find on just about every street corner in Bogota. In most cases they are a corn bread outside with a slice of cheap cheese on the inside. I observed that most people avoided eating this type of arepa in lieu of a carimañola (below).

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I did have a lot of complaints about the “Western” food offered at my hotel, but I will say one thing, they made a really nice Arepas de huevo for breakfast.

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Arequipe

Arequipe is another name for dulce de leche, a desert that originated in Argentina in 1829 but exists in some form in nearly every country in the world. It’s made by heating sweetened milk until it has a caramel like consistency. I didn’t know this but you can create dulce de leche at home by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours.

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Calentado

Calentado is leftovers for breakfast. People will often heat up the rice, beans, potatoes and meat from the previous evening’s dinner… sometimes with a fried egg… and serve it for breakfast.

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Carimañola

This is often called yuca by the locals and is a mixture of meat, rice, and cheese in a yuca fritter; it’s usually deep fried. These are often served with suero for dipping.

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Fried Tofu

Colombia is a vegan place too. I don’t think tofu is a typical offering but it is treated exactly like fish: fried and served with rice and plantains. This particular rendition looks simple but was amazingly tasty; the sauce made all the difference.

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Paela

Paela is Spanish but I bring it up because it seems to be a common dish in Colombia. In the two instances that I tried Paela, the first was fantastic and uniquely Colombian (flavour and ingredients). It was like they took the dish, adapted it, and made it so much better. The second time I tried Paela, it was completely terrible. The below picture is the fantastic version.

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Sancocho

This is a unique foodie version of seafood sancocho, a popular soup from the Valle del Cauca region usually served with vegetables and meat. It is served with rice and plantains. In this case it was black rice cooked in coconut milk and fried plantains.

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