We visit Colombia as often as we can and it’s been over 5 years since the last time we visited for Christmas. If you are Colombian or have traveled there between December 7th (Dia de las velitas) and January 6th (Dia de Reyes), you have experienced one of the unique Christma’s celebrations around the world. I might be a little bit biased as I grew up in Colombia, but it is the best time of the year. The lights, the music, the food and the family feeling are things you only find in Colombia.
Christma’s starts with the Dia de las Velitas, where families and friends gather around a catholic celebration of the light. It still has a religious connotation but for most people, it is all about getting together and spending some quality time with your loved ones. One of the food traditions is to make buñuelos; a traditional cheese deep fried bread and Natilla, a milk and caramel custard.
Then the big Christmas celebration kicks off on December 16th with the Novenas, the Spanish tradition of praying for nine days until Christmas day. Food traditions include roasted pig, empanadas, tamales, sancocho and frijoles.
When you travel to Colombia, travel with an open mind for new foods, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
I will tease you with a few images from our last trip, I want to show you some of the food I’m sure you will love.
Arepas are traditional breakfast food in Colombia. The morning meal consists of this corn patty, similar to a tortilla but not quite. It is a lot thicker than a Mexican tortilla and the texture will be completely different; expect a crunchy outside followed by a soft, warm, thin layer of mashed corn on the inside. It is probably the most traditional Colombian breakfast but people really eat them any time of the day. My favorite is the cheese stuffed arepa made with cassava meal and corn which gives the arepas a sweeter taste and chewier texture.
“Cazuelitas” are bowls full of yummy calories. They are a spin of the traditional “Bandeja Paisa” consisting of frijoles as the base food and all sorts of toppings you can imagine to garnish with dish and make it a complete meal in a bowl. My favorite toppings on a “cazuela” are avocado cubes, sweet deep fried plantain bites, chorizo, chicharron and potato chips.
I’m known for my sweet tooth and I definitely take advantage of the variety and freshness of Colombian fruits whenever I visit. Salpicon is a fruit cocktail made with a juice base and chopped fruits of all kinds. It usually has papaya, bananas, apples, pineapple and mango, but seriously, imagination is the limit when it comes to combining fruits to make salpicon, Colombia is a privileged country when it comes to the variety of fruits that are available. Salpicon is good on its own, but you can always make it even more decadent with a dash of “lecherita” or condensed milk and vanilla ice cream.
Sweet ripe plantains bring lots of childhood memories to me. It was my father’s go-to breakfast; scrambled eggs with cubed sweet plantain. It’s not only delicious but an affordable food staple in many Colombian house holds. One of my favorite ways to eat sweet plantains, is to combine them with melted cheese and guava mermalade.
Of course! No trip to Colombia is complete without enjoy a cup of Colombia coffee. It’s world wide known for its smooth flavor and aroma, you can enjoy great coffee pretty much anywhere but if you have the opportunity to visit a coffee town (pueblo) do so and enjoy the freshest coffee one can have. During our trip, we visited Jardin, which is a beautiful town and we sip coffee from one of the local farms, it was such a treat.