BOGOTA, CARTAGENA, SAN ANDRES
Bandeja paisa is Colombia’s unofficial national dish. This massive meal was originally devised to provide peasant workers with sufficient energy to keep them going throughout the day. It consists of rice, plantain, arepa (corn cakes), avocado, minced meat, chorizo, black sausage, and fried pork rind. There’s also a fried egg thrown on top for good measure.
This trip provides a good taste of Colombia.
Bogota, the capital, is a vibrant city filled with a rich history. You can learn a lot about it in the Gold Museum or walking through the old neighborhoods. It also has beautiful parks and an amazing view from Mount Monserrate. If you have the time it is worth checking the unique Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
Our second stop was in Cartagena. This incredible walled city is great for lazy walks through the small and charming streets. Days must end with a drink at Cafe Del Mar watching the sunset.
Finally, San Andres. This Caribbean island suffered a lot of economic distress since Colombia took over from England. You can notice the decay while driving around in one of the rental golf carts, but that doesn't diminish the remarkable beauty of places like Johnny Kay, Cayo Acuario, and La Piscinita.
Aguardiente Sour is a traditional Colombian cocktail made with orange juice, sugar, egg whites, lime juice, and aguardiente.
The most popular way to drink Aguardiente in Colombia is in shots, but there are a couple of cocktails that use it as the main ingredient such as Canelazo and Hervido.
6 ounces Colombian Aguardiente
2 ounces lime juice
4 ounces orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg white lightly mixed
Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until well combined and frothy.
Strain into serving glass.
4 cups red beans, or kidney beans
1 tablespoon salt
2 diced green plantains
1 small carrot, grated or shredded
1 pork trotter
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Rinse the beans before cooking then place them in a pressure cooker half filled with water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook the beans for approximately 30 minutes. Then open the pressure cooker and place the rest of the ingredients in with the beans. Cook under pressure for another 20 minutes and serve with or without the trotter.
Bandeja Paisa may be accompanied with 8 ounces of grilled beefsteak, steamed white rice, fried sweet plantains, deep fried pork crackling, 1 fried egg atop the rice, and 1 corn tortilla. The rice should be in the middle of the plate, then the beans on the left side. The remainder of the ingredients can be arranged on the plate to your liking.
Of course, it had to be Shakira. This album was released in 1995 and it exploded across Latin America. Shakira's reached global success with Laundry Service, launched in 2001, but Pies Descalzos reflects more her Colombian origin.