I wanted to start a mini-series about different aspects of Daily Life. When I visit home, I get a lot of questions about what goes on in different aspects of daily life. I thought I would start with everyone’s favorite, food. I find a lot of misconceptions about the food in Colombia, most people think it’s like Mexican food. Nope. Not at all. It has a more European influence – and not nearly the amount of spice or heat.
Restaurants: Italian, Lebanese, Sushi, Spanish are plentiful here. Of course classic costeño Colombian food and Parilla’s are found everywhere as well. Think grilled meats with coconut rice and patacones (fried green plantains). They have lots of twists on the classics – see my Colombiano pizza below with avocado, corn and chorizo. Lots of amazing bread, cakes and postries as well.
Grocery Stores: We have quite a few chains, but they are what you would consider small neighborhood markets if you were in the States. No mega stores here. Great produce options, and most everything else you could need.
My favorite has to be the International food aisle…. this both cracks me up and concerns me at the same time. Lots of Pringles and ketchup type products?!? This is me also wishing the Mexican section was a little more robust.
Just outside the grocery store: I’m not sure how or why this is, but you are able to get some even better produce right outside the grocery store from some local guys. Farm to table, Colombian style… My weekly purchase is usually strawberries. Just look at those beauties. About 15,000-20,000 pesos for 1 kilo. I’m sure I pay the Gringo up-charge, but I don’t mind.
Street food: It’s everywhere. From meats to fresh mango bische (cut mango with salt & pepper, spritzed with lime juice) and everything in between. I’m not a very adventurous eater, but occasionally I get peer pressured into giving something a try. It’s usually very good, you just pray it doesn’t come with a side of tummy troubles.
Like I’ve Never Had Before: Obviously, the coffee…no unicorn frappes here, just a classic latte for me.
The juices are also out of this world. They have flavors I never knew existed. (tamarind) They are pure and fresh, without added sugar. So so good.
What I canNOT get here: The items I cannot get here are usually brand specific. They have versions of mostly everything here, maybe just not your favorite brand or flavor. A few things I have had to order lately:
- smoked paprika
- pizza goldfish
- clif bars
- natural peanut butter
- ghiradeli chocolate chips
- speciality baking items: certain flours or flavorings.
- apple cider vinegar
What I live without and cannot have shipped in:
- Kombucha – extra sad face.
- Sweet potatoes. I never wanted them so badly until I couldn’t get them.
- Peaches or Nectarines
- Fresh chili peppers
- Sour cream
Overall, it took some getting used to and some planning ahead, but we have managed to find our favorite places and flavors. We still find new foods to try, and each of us have our own Colombian favorites. I will say that we cook more from scratch now to get things the way we like but we are also able to stop at the many cafes and restaurants that are just blocks from our apartment.