Day 13: The City of Eternal Spring

Colombia is a country with rich diversity and a storied past which predominantly surrounds the Spanish colonization and a strong resistance movement.  It is the second most bio-diverse country in the world, second only to Brazil which is considerably larger.  In contrast to the bio-diversity, Colombia is highly urbanized with more than 25% of the population living in the top five cities.  With such diversity, it should be no surprise that there are eighteen regional food styles in Colombia.  In addition to the food, Colombia is well known for its coffee, with more than 500,000 coffee farms.  Today we are happy to highlight food from the city of Medellín (Colombians pronounce it MedeJin--not Medeyin as you hear in the movies).  If you want to see some of the charm of of the city and what you can see and do on a weekend trip there, check out this article about 36 hours in Medellín.  Medellín gets its nickname, "the city of eternal spring" from its temperate "season-less" climate due to its elevation.  If you want to experience the food, go to your closest Colombian restaurant and order a plate of Bandeja Paisa.

Bandeja Paisa

The national dish of Colombia, and the place which is best known for the dish, Medellín, is an opulent platter of a half-dozen of South American delectables: red beans and rice, arepa, chicharrón, plantains, carne asada, chorizo, avocado, and, just to add a final touch, a fried egg.  

Bandeja Paisa 

Chicharrón (deep fried bacon with all the fat) and chorizo (sausage)

Fried Plantains--They are as good as desert.

Arepa: a small biscuit that has several regional variants and applications.


Like regional dishes in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the far East where many dishes are the same while the spice "bouquets" change, empanadas are a common Central and South American food while there is still room for local variations.  Like the Honduran empanadas, Colombian empanadas have a corn flour flour breading.  The two that we tried were meat filled and cheese filled, the latter tasting like a sweet dessert. 

Cheese Filled Empanadas

Meat Filled Empanadas

Keep calm and don't trust spellcheck.

Its ColOmbia not ColUmbia

A common mistake up here in the northern part of the Americas is misspelling Colombia substituting the second O for a U.  This is partly due to spelling things how they sound, and, in American English, where the vowels are fluid at best and interchangeable at worst, the U and O can have similar sounds.  Compounding this is the fact that spellcheckers do not catch the flaw since there are so many cities in the States named Columbia.  All excuses aside, it is a common mistake, and when I went back I looked in all of my notes only to find that I was no more transcendent than the average North American.  This spelling problem is widespread there are a number of high profile, embarrassing incidents, most notably one Adidas add geared towards footballers.  In response, there are a plethora of memorabilia in Colombia reminding folks that its ColOmbia not ColUmbia.

Sandra Tells Us About Colombia

One of my favorite parts of getting into culture is the people that you meet and the conversations that you have.  It has been our pleasure to have the very classy Sandra along with us on quite a few of the terabeza lunches.  She is a native of Colombia and is from Medellín.  In this interview, she tells us what we might find the most surprising about Colombia and which of the terabeza crew is most likely to appear on a popular TV show.