One of the best things about travelling to another country is the chance to taste the food and experience a whole new cuisine. Colombian food is superb and there are some great opportunities to try street food in particular.
It was an early start to get to Paloquemau Market but even at 8am the market was already in full swing having traded since 4.30am. It was a riot of colour with the scent of fried food, fruit and the sawdust smell of meat stalls. Everything was remarkably fresh and displayed ready for sale. Porters rushed between the narrow stalls with boxes of vegetables and other items. Just at the entrance to the market was a stall selling snacks and I tasted what looked like a disc of dough but turned out to be Pani Bono. Made from yucca and guava it managed to be sweet and sour at the same time- and an intriguing start to the day.
I could have sampled more but was warned to leave space for more food. Moving on past the colourful fruit and vegetables was a delight. The size of the avocados was staggering- later I would be mixing avocado into a chicken soup for lunch.
One of the great things about Colombia is the vast range of fruits I had never even heard of so a tasting of tropical fruits was a must. Tree tomatoes, also known as tomatillo, were delicious and slightly more delicate in taste than a tomato. I tried banana passion fruit, pineapple guava, and higo- a huge fruit also known as prickly pear. The tastes were very different and a delight to try. Sapote is a central American fruit also known as Mexican apple and had a bland yet delicate flavour.
Just outside the main market area were more street food stalls. It was here I was introduced to La Chona. This is a mixture of rice, beans and pork slow cooked in pig skin. It was served with an arepa or corn bread and was delicious- real soul food to warm the heart. I loved it. The accompanying drink was lulo juice- a fruit found in Colombia and Ecuador.
Tamal were cooking in a pot nearby. This is chicken, rice and peas wrapped in banana leaves and left to simmer in a pot for 2-3 hours. It was another superb taste of Colombian food. Had I not been with a local guide I probably would have walked by and not even stopped.
Tasting local food is an important part of travelling. Look out for my next post on coffee production in Colombia.
January Journeys list: tasting a new cuisine