A Taste of Colombia

Day 5

Taste

I love the coffee, I love the I love the coffee.
You know how coffee gets bitter ? Not Colombian.
It’s rich and aromatic– never a disappointment and I am going to miss it.

Not being a meat eater, I may have missed much of what Colombia is famous for but the day I went venturing alone, I happened upon a Colombian treasure–the Arepa.

Wandering into an outdoor cafe, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for having successfully taken the Metro to the end of the line in northern Medellin to shop at one of their big (3-story) malls for SnaZZy finds. Looking at the menu, I realized the items were completely unfamiliar me– even the English version! So I ordered the only familiar food I saw– something with cornbread and cheese sounded like a good red-wine companion. And I was delighted! The waiter nodded his approval, saying, “Ah, Arepa”. It seems that I had chosen one of the signature Colombian foods.

Recipe: www.epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

1 cup arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata or grated mozzarella (1/4 pound)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Toss together arepa flour, cheese, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl, then stir in water until incorporated. Let stand until enough water is absorbed for a soft dough to form, 1 to 2 minutes (dough will continue to stiffen).

Form 3 level tablespoons dough into 1 ball and flatten between your palms, gently pressing to form a 1/4-inch-thick patty (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches wide), then gently press around side to eliminate cracks. Transfer to a wax-paper-lined surface. Form more disks with remaining dough in same manner, transferring to wax-paper-lined surface.
Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then fry arepas in 2 batches, turning over once, until deep golden in patches, 8 to 10 minutes total per batch. Drain on paper towels.

El YUM!

If you get to Medellin, you must get Pablado in the evening, a magical place to hang out. Venturing down side streets lined with banyan trees where there are outdoor cafes aplenty. Beckoning party lights strewn through the trees pull you towards tantalizing restaurants and enough night life to keep you entertained until the wee hours.

We found several vegan and organic restaurants in Medellin– and they were fabulous. Quinoa has reclaimed its rightful place as a nutritional grain–a complete protein it was a staple of the Incas for 3-4,000 years. The Spanish introduced European grains and it has taken several hundred years for it to regain is popularity.

On the coast of Cartagena, seafood was a good option. The shrimp were both tender and firm, delicious with ginger, garlic and lime.

Within the Walled City, we found an organic salad/wrap shop and loved the taste of spearmint in our green salad– something I had never tried before.

Papayas are everywhere–as sweet as they are tender.
And the avocados are huge, tasting buttery while adding B12 and the good kind of fat.

Colombian food was plenty flavorful but not hot like Mexican food. In fact, we often asked for extra picante to add a little heat and spice.

I will try my hand at making Arepas for the next SnaZZy Threads Open House so come get a taste of Colombia for yourself!

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