Colombian Cuisine for Motorbike Riders, especially the Adventurous Touring types. Here´s a road map to South American culinary delights.
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Are you heading to Colombia on an Aventure Motorcycle Tour? Are you wondering what the cuisine will be like?
If you are the typical bad-ass Adventure Motorcycle Touring Rider you will love it. Feast your eyes on what to expect:
What makes Colombian cuisine Colombian?
The roadmap to Colombian cuisine –
1. Caribbean Style.
2. Boyaca Style.
3. Zona Cafetera & Medellin Style.
4. Pacific & Cali Style.
5. Llanos Style.
I love discovering a new country by motorbike for many reasons. Among them, the fact that the flexible nature of motorbike touring allows you to duck into that dicey-looking highway diner that caught your eye 200 meters back. You know, the one the tour bus just sped right past.
Only a motorbike provides the ideal vehicle for undertaking a cross-country culinary expedition.
Get hungry on the approach to a random town in rural Colombia, and wherever you pull in, it won’t be an air-conditioned coffee chain. Or anywhere with English-speaking staff or Israeli salad on the menu.
Whenever we’ve been riding in the heat, dirt, and mud for hours, I get a little buzz when the first sign of civilization appearing on the horizon is a hand-drawn sign for a rambling; roadside eats shack.
Marvel at crew-line cooked meals, efficiently dished out to truck drivers, seasonal laborers, lost tourists, and day-tripping school kids.
WHAT MAKES COLOMBIAN CUISINE COLOMBIAN?
Colombian cuisine is difficult to generalize or judge as a whole, thanks to its wildly varying geography. Within its borders, we can find almost every ecosystem on earth. From the Caribbean reefs to the Amazon jungle. I do not forget the Andean cloud forests and the tropical plains. The sheer variety of produce grown in Colombia is mind-boggling.
Add to the mix at least 10,000 years of indigenous inhabitation. With the legacy of the Spanish, the Africans, and Colombia’s influential Latin American neighbors. Now you have a cuisine deeply connected to the land, history, culture, access, and ancestry.
It’s no surprise then that Colombian cuisine varies massively from region to region.
As you ride through Colombia, every time, the landscape changes dramatically. You can reasonably assume the food situation has too.
This guide is by no means exhaustive, but it might give you an idea of what to expect as you travel and taste your way through different parts of Colombia.
Any idea what to order? Trust in the menu del dia – the road warrior’s bargain-priced mystery meal of choice. No one place makes it the same.
THE ROADMAP TO COLOMBIAN CUISINE for Motorbike Riders – CARIBBEAN STYLE
Colombia’s Caribbean coast is blessed with a colorful bounty of tasty things from down in the sea and up in the trees. A visit to a Caribbean produce market is a must. You’re guaranteed not to recognize half of everything in the fruit section. But you will enjoy almost all of its deliciousness.
Cartagena was the most important Spanish trading port for both goods and slaves. So here, indigenous ingredients eventually began to merge with Spanish and African influence.
These days, Cartagena has swapped the slave trade for the tourist one. And as a result, it’s home to some of Colombia’s best and most expensive high-end international restaurants.
Coconut and seafood are common pairings. A simply grilled snapper on coconut rice is hard to beat.
But a worthy challenger is cazuela de mariscos, a Creole-style seafood soup. You will enjoy hearty bites of fish and shellfish swimming in a creamy coconut milk broth with this soup.
Palanqueras (fruit sellers, usually older women) balance baskets on their heads along buzzing beach strips. Each heavy laden with mango, guava, pineapple, and more exotic offerings. But do try the likes of pitaya (yellow dragon fruit) and nispero (a small apricot in appearance, with sweet, tart flesh.)
THE ROADMAP TO COLOMBIAN CUISINE for Motorbike Riders – BOYACA STYLE
Boyacá Department is in Colombia’s east-central Andean region. Many of Colombia’s major rivers originate in the lowlands of Boyacá. Which all support vast expanses of fertile farmland.
Much of Boyacá’s produce is sold directly to the eight million residents of its capital. Bogota is also home to Colombia’s most celebrated chefs and awarded eateries. Chefs who purport to honor Boyacá’s culinary traditions have the task of prettying up a relatively simple farmhouse fare. Their secret? Using ultra-fresh, high-quality local produce, making inventive meals out of hearty, carb-filled, cool-climate stodge. In addition, Beef, chicken, corn, and potatoes are staples.
The region’s best-known dish, Ajiaco, is a soup made of three kinds of potatoes with varying textures. Corn and herbs are added, and you’ll usually find a leg or other bits of chicken thrown in. Additional fixings are optional but could include capers, cream, avocado, or rice.
You will discover corn in desserts in Boyacá, particularly when mixed with milk (hot or cold) and panela (whole cane sugar) or honey.
THE ROADMAP TO COLOMBIAN CUISINE for Motorbike Riders – ZONA CAFETERIA AND MEDELLIN STYLE.
Colombia’s verdant central Andean region, where you will find some of the world’s finest coffee grown. Then, harvested and shipped almost entirely overseas and enjoyed by millions of non-Colombian cafe aficionados.
I joke. But not really. Colombian coffee culture surprisingly niches. And one of the few places you can get a guaranteed decent pintado (roughly equivalent to a flat white) is at a coffee finca in the Zona Cafetera. A more popular warm drink is agua de panela. Literally made from brown cane sugar in hot water (sometimes with coffee added.) Other crops include avocados, bananas, citrus, pineapple, and cocoa.
The region’s lush valleys crisscross with creeks and streams. Guess what, that´s why you’ll see river trout (truta) on almost every menu—each prepared in an endless variety of ways.
The most – wood-grilled, whole-smoked, topped with herbs, breadcrumbs, and cheese. Sometimes you will receive this scrummiest meal slathered in creamy mushroom sauce.
Antioquia department proudly claims to have invented the bandeja paisa. Furthermore, this overdose on a plate is almost entirely bloat-inducing carbs and glisteningly visible trans fats in the form of chicharron, chorizo, ground beef, fried eggs, plantains, avocado, and arepa. Finish a whole one at your peril.
Author´s Note: check out the final image at the end of my article titled Colombian Cuisine, made for Adventure Motorcycle Touring Riders, and I dare you not to succumb with licking your lips.
THE ROADMAP TO COLOMBIAN CUISINE for Motorbike Riders – PACIFIC COAST AND CALI STYLE
Here’s a hot foodie tip for you: Always remember, the place where they make the best food in Colombia is not the one with all the swanky interior architecture and the fancy foreign-trained chefs.
You will not find any Michelin-starred restaurants on the country’s surf-battered western coast. Nor are there any in the city of Cali, just 30 minutes inland.
If there’s one thing most Colombian food lacks, it’s chili and spice. Not hot enough?
The Pacifico has Colombia’s largest African-descendent population. Their culinary traditions, mixed with the maritime bounty of the Pacific Ocean, have created a foodscape unlike anywhere else in Colombia. Come to this steamy slice of the country and eat your words with a side of sizzling habanero salsa.
The people here love rich, spicy flavors. Using liberal amounts of garlic, onion, and cilantro. In addition, Turmeric gives many local dishes their signature yellow hue. Pacifico fresh chili salsas are often “muy Caliente” and pair deliciously with ceviche.
Remember, some coconut milk fish soups (like sanchoco de Pescado) and meat stews are almost curry-like in their complexity. Furthermore, Paella Pacificos is the ultimate seafood feast, heaped with fish, prawns, calamari, clams, and langostinos.
THE ROADMAP TO COLOMBIAN CUISINE for Motorbike Riders – LLANOS REGION STYLE
Los Llanos, “the plains,” are the massive swathes of grassland and wetlands in Colombia’s east, bordering Venezuela. This is cowboy country, where the best beef in Colombia, where you will find bred, butchered, and barbecued. Don´t be surprised knowing that Llaneros don’t just eat beef, however. Sometimes they eat pork. Often on long metal skewers over a wood fire pit.
In addition, boiled yuca (cassava) and potato are your typical sides, and to spice things up, add generous splashings of aji (a salsa of fresh tomatoes, lime, garlic, and chili) on everything.
Written by: Fiona Davies (extreme pillion rider and adventure travel writer)
Edited for SEO optimization by Mike Bowley at www.mikedbowley.com
Well we have educated you, we have shown you, and now we have fed you. so what’s next? How about lesson 2, 3, and 4 below:
Is Motorcycle Touring in Colombia safe? This single most frequently asked question is one about exploring Colombia with a bike. Bring up your plans regarding Colombia in conversation, and the response may well be, “are you crazy?” But, why not take a moment to read this article on the subject of safety in Colombia and decide for yourself.
Cartagena is the most romantic city in Colombia. Lay eyes on Cartagena and prepare to be lovestruck. Let’s see why. As a Seasoned Adventure Motorcycle Rider, you may have heard city names like Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. But, there is a hidden gem that is perfect for starting your next tour – Cartagena.
Why should I visit Popayán? Cartagena has everything and more. In contrast, I have never heard of Popayán! – Colombia’s 480 Year Old Colonial ‘White City.’
Author´s Note: There is no truth in the rumor that I ate a crispy salad after creating this mouthwatering feast of Colombian Cuisine made for Motorbike Adventure Touring Riders.