After a wonderful trip back home for Christmas, I hit the road and headed back to Colombia with my sister in-tow. Currently writing this post from the salsa-capital that is Cali, here is a brief run down of some of our culinary conquests so far.
We started off in Bogota, the countries capital, and the home of wonderful dishes such as ajiaco. As I’ve already eaten ajiaco several times, even having made it myself, I was tempted by the more unusual bogotano foods, such as milk soup with a poached egg in it, known as changua.
Traditionally eaten for breakfast, I have to say it was an odd morning meal-time experience for me. The bowl of milk made me feel I was about to eat cereal, but the poached egg evoked desires of toast and bacon. Next time, I might just stick to porridge.
My love of meat and all things offal is well documented, and may even verge on excessive. However, my wonderful sister Anna avoids eating our furry friends altogether. While this may raise doubts about whether we are really even related, luckily she eats fish, which meant our stay in the Caribbean island of San Andrés was stress free, as we found ourselves in seafood heaven. Bring on this enormous lobster to share, cooked al ajillo (with garlic), on the idyllic island of Johnny Key, a 20-minute boat ride from San Andrés.
For comedy value, I’ll include our New Year’s Eve dinner in here. After having searched in vain for a fancy joint to enjoy our last meal of the year at (reservations, it turns out, may have been needed), we warmed up for the fiesta in the island’s answer to KFC – KikiRiki, the local chicken shop. My pescetarian of a sister, ordering fish in a chicken shop, had a tough job deciphering which plate was her fried fish fillet and which was my chicken. Bless her soul. The issue with generic fried fillets…chicken or fish?
After much drinking, dancing, and general merriment on New Year’s Eve, it’s fair the say we weren’t feeling our freshest the following day. Not to worry, as fresh ceviche from the seafood shack on the beach was there to nurse us back to normality – beats an English fry-up any day.
Much like with the changua in Bogota, often there will be dishes I am told are traditional to a place, and no matter how weird they may be, my constant desire to sample new cuisines pushes me to try them. Introducing Stew Crab with breadfruit.
It may look like pulled pork, but this here is pretty much every part of the crab meat, stewed up. While I didn’t dislike it, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind, and it’s slightly gritty texture was slightly off-putting. Still, glad to have tried some local cuisine before we left the island, we said goodbye to San Andrés and headed down to Cartagena. I’ve already done a blog post on Cartagena, and what was now my third trip to this wonderful colonial city provided even more great food to try.
This mixed seafood platter was perhaps my favorite meal of the whole trip so far. Eaten in the sun, with an ice-cold beer, on a boat we were sharing with friends, I took a moment to reflect. This seafood came directly from the sea onto our plate, and with food this fresh, nothing else is needed. A touch of garlic and sprinkle of salt was enough. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that are the best. And that is a thought that could be applied to many things, inside and out of the kitchen.
On that note I leave you, as the salsa clubs of Cali wait for no women, not even the Bidmead sisters. Stay tuned for Part Two of this post, where I will write up what comida Cali has had to offer, along with my beloved Barranquilla, and one last trip down the coast.
Check out my Instagram @bidmeadbites for daily updates on what local treats I’m trying, all under the hashtag #travelbidmeadbites.