5 Foods you have to eat in Bogotá, Colombia:

When people are traveling, the best recommendation a travel expert can give, is to have local food. That way, by tasting the flavors that locals eat, the travelers can better perceive the culture and get further understanding of the people.

At Bogotá, Colombia, you have to go for this exquisite dishes, recommended by generations of bogotanos and tested positively, by many foreigners.

These are my top 5 foods for Bogotá, and a bonus:

1-)       AJIACO

The ajiaco is a chicken and three kinds of native potatoes, (sabanera, pastusa criolla) soup, that is just a chicken and potatoes soup until a miracle happens.

That miracle grows in the Sabana, the extended plain up in the Andes mountains at 2.640 meters above sea level ( 8.661 ft) where Bogotá is located.

The secret herb that makes the soup an ajiaco is the Guasca, it radically changes the flavor of the mixed potatoes and chicken soup, making it a dish by itself with a personality that can define Bogotá.

It is a food that comes from the tribe of the chibchas, and was adopted by the Spanish conquistadores who added the European touch.

The ajiaco is served with shredded chicken, corn on the cobb, aguacate (avocado), and the Spanish touch, which are the crapers and a topping of heavy whipped cream.

It is delicious; I have had many ajiacos in my life, and I have presented the dish to many people from all around the world, and never, anyone has said to me they dislike the ajiaco, everybody loves it.

So go, with no doubt for the Ajiaco Santafereño, at a good restaurant though; I recommend Casavieja, http://casavieja.com.co/ , or at a house, that keeps the tradition, also at fine hotels they prepare the dish, in a very classical way.

2-)     Fritanga:

The fritanga is essential for bogotanos. We love to have a big picada on a weekend with family and friends. Fritanga, is an all fry, mix of different cuts of pork meat, and many kinds of sausages like morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo and longaniza. It goes with papa criolla, a Colombian yellow potatoe that is also base for the other featured dish, the Ajiaco. There is also platano maduro, guacamole, and obviously a strong and hot homemade ají.

You have to go to the piqueteaderos to have the best fritanga. I recommend Donde Manuel, http://dondemanuel.co/ or at Doña Segunda, located in the northeast corner of the plaza de Mercado of the 12 de octubre.

 Also if you go to the countryside there are many fritanga spots along the way. Don’t expect to find fritanga at fancy restaurants except for some like, Club Colombia, however it is better to do fritanga at the piqueteaderos.

To drink, ask for the Refajo a bubbling cold intercourse between beer and colombiana, the national soft drink. It is good, and marries perfectly with the fritanga.

3-)    Postre de Natas:

The postre de natas is a sweet discovery that will encourage you to give another thought to what to do, with the double skin milk that you may throw, when you heat the milk. The Postre de Natas is a, Double Skin Milk Dessert, It is creamy and not too sweet. I like it and recommend it because is good and everybody likes it.

You can get Postre de Natas at almost every restaurant, also at supermarkets and some stores.

4-)      Lechona:

Well, some purist are not going to like this dish to be included in this list, as lechona is not from Bogotá. It is from a region nearby called departamento de Tolima. But let me tell you, this stuffed and oven roasted pig is a hit. You are going to taste an exquisite form of cooking the pork.

If you go to a fútbol (soccer) game at the El Campín Stadium, home of Millonarios and Santafe you can have lechona at the halftime or you can go to the Lechonarium (as I call it) in the Avenida caracas between 27 south and 29 south, where you will find many good Lechoneros that will delight you. In many parts of the city you can find Lechonerías and there is a good lechona by the pound, at supermarkets like Carulla or Exito.  

5-)     Tamal:

The tamal is essential in Bogotános diet. The weekends, specially Sunday, there is a tradition that comes from long time, to have tamal for breakfast. It is spiced corn dough, stuffed with chicken, pork, bacon carrot and peas, that are comprised into a plantains leave and cooked by steam.

Please, do not eat the leave that contains the prize (the tamal itself), it might sound like a joke, but there are some foreigners that have done it because no one told them.

The tamales in Bogotá are everywhere, from the neighborhood bakeries, to the restaurants and supermarkets. But if you want the traditional ones you will have to go to La Puerta Falsa in downtown

Bonus track:

As a bonus. Go for a different breakfast, do it with Changua, is a broth made only with water, milk, salt, cilantro, chives, also 2 opened eggs that cook into the changua and almojabana pieces or calado crumbles  are added at the end.

You can get changua at most of the bakeries, also at fine hotels in the breakfast buffet. Most people likes it.

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Remember that travelling makes you a better person.

Néstor Meléndez Soler


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