Colombia has a thriving snacking culture, and mouth watering options await you on every corner. From the fruit-rickshaw drivers that tout their produce along the roadway, to the street-meat vendors that fry until the early hours of the morning, there’s always something delicious to quickly grab. Here, we have compiled a list of our favorite Colombian snacks.
Pan de queso
Pandequeso is a snack particularly popular in Antioquia. At a basic level, it is a savory donut combined with grated cheese. Its light and fluffy texture is what sets it apart from similar snacks like the buñuelo. Pandequesos will vary depending on the cheese that makes them up; some are stronger than others. This classic Antioquian treat is perfect when still warm from the oven and served alongside your morning coffee.
Tamales are a great on-the-go meal due to their efficient (and organic!) packaging. The inside is a hearty masa dough, mashed with pork, chicken, potato, peas and carrots. You can’t ignore the main spectacle: tamales are steam-cooked and wrapped in a giant banana leaf that is tied-up to keep the juices secure. Cut the string, pull apart the banana leaf and be greeted by this bliss of local ingredients. It’s beautiful to look at and scrumptious to eat. Tamales are delicious and a true local specialty.
Pan de Crema
Pan de Crema is a buttery take on regular soft-loaf bread that will leave you salivating. The dough is cooked in a large dish-pan to form a regiment of interconnected buns. The panadería vendor will tear you off a chunk appropriate for your needs. This overload of carbohydrates and butter is not the most healthy choice but it is certainly indulgent.
Buñuelos are wheat-based dough balls, popular across Latin America. Every country has its own adaptation of the classic fried treat when it comes to form and flavor. Colombians add curd cheese to the dough and deep-fry until golden brown. It’s hard to miss buñuelos in Colombia, and not just because of their distinctive spherical shape. You’ll find them poking out onto the street from the shop-front, piled high inside their glass-cases.
So far we have cataloged Colombia’s savory snackables, but what about the local fruit. The stalwarts of the European fruit stall – the banana, the apple and the orange – are widely available. Avocados and Papayas are among the local favourites and come cheap, but chances are you will want to try something more exotic. Here are 3 to look out for:
- Granadilla – Inside the hard outer casing you’ll find a bundle of black seeds encased in a sweet syrupy coating. The burst of the fruit’s juice makes for a refreshingly exotic treat.
- Mamoncillo – This fruit comes in the mold of a lychee, with a pinch of citrus. Mamoncillos come in clusters on the vine. The skin is thin and hard, and is best peeled off with your teeth.
- Pitaya – The so called ‘Dragon Fruit’ has a thick, uneven skin and a light, spongy white flesh within. Sometimes cited for its health benefits, this fruit is best eaten with a spoon.
Arepa de Chocolo
Arepas de Chocolo are a delicious slant on the classic arepa. “Chocolo” – the newest corn of the season – is used to form a Masarepa flour. It is mixed with milk, butter and salt to form a thick pancake-like batter. Arepas de chocolo are cooked on the frying pan until browned on both sides. They are served with queso fresco – a soft, white cow’s cheese – that provides a cold and spongy juxtaposition to the warm and sweet corn arepa.
Empanadas are savory turnover snacks usually consumed between meals. The word comes from the Spanish verb ’empanar’, meaning “to coat or cover in bread”. Albeit, in Colombia, they use a corn-mix dough which gives them their yellow color. Empanadas contain a mixture of pork, beef, potato, and some potluck extras like onion, garlic and cumin.
Pasteles are puff-pastry type treats cooked in the oven and they come in sweet and savoury varieties. Pastel de Pollo is the most popular savory variant. It comes packed with chicken, herbs and vegetables like carrot and onion. Sweet pasteles include Pastel de Guayaba, made from the Guava fruit and Pastel de Arequipe containing caramelized milk.
If you are interested to learn more about Colombian culture, or you want to learn Spanish in an immersive environment, please visit https://www.colombiaimmersion.com