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What to Eat in Bogotá

This week I'd like to talk a little bit about Colombian food, because although I've only been here in Bogota for a month, I'm still surprised at the incredible variety this country has to offer.

One of the best things for me is undoubtedly the affordable price of food, at least in La Candelaria. In fact, here it is very common to have a complete lunch for only 5,000 pesos (which is approximately 2 euros), A lunch which includes soup, a main dish (usually rice with chicken or meat and fried bananas) and also a fresh fruit drink. If you aren’t very hungry, you can always enjoy ‘comida rapida’, which isn’t very healthy, but surprisingly tastes rather good. And, last but not least, I have to mention the variety of fruit. When I arrived here I only knew 4-5 exotic fruits, and now that I'm here, I discover a new kind almost every day.

So overall, what are the best things to eat if you're coming to visit Bogotá? After having explored many restaurants and hidden food ‘tiendas’ (shops), these are my personal suggestions:

1. Arepas

This is probably one of the most famous Colombian specialties. It’s a flatbread made from corn flour that can be filled with many different ingredients, such as cheese, chicken and avocado, or even shrimp.

2. Chocolate Santafereño (hot chocolate with cheese)

I want to be honest, before trying chocolate with cheese I was suspicious about the final result, but fortunately, I found this drink to be delicious. In fact, the cheese counter-balances the sweetness of the chocolate, creating a unique taste combination. This chocolate can also be accompanied with bread and eggs (for breakfast).

3. Empanadas

I think empanadas are one of the best snack items in South America, and it’s very interesting to see how each country has its own version. Here in Colombia, empanadas are usually quite small, fried and filled with chicken, meat or vegetables. The sauces that accompany these empanadas are incredible and abundant. I remember tasting 8 different sauces in one location! Although Colombians are not known for eating spicy food, some of the sauces are actually very spicy, so be careful if you’re not used to spicy food.

4. Tamal

I find tamal to be a very exotic dish. In Colombia there are many types of tamales depending on the region they come from. My favorite is the Tamal Tolimense (from the department of Tolima) which is made with rice, pork, onion, garlic, potato, egg, and - here’s the best part - all these ingredients are wrapped in plantain leaves!

5. Bandeja Paisa

This is originally from department of Antioquia, but is found in a lot of places in Bogotá too. It’s made up of several components such as rice, beef, chorizo with lime, beans, plantain, arepa, avocado, fried egg and chicharron (slice of pork with intact skin). In my opinion, it’s a very good dish, but also one of the heaviest I’ve ever eaten in my life. I’ve never managed to finish it. In fact, I believe when I achieve this challenge, I I’ll be a true Colombian!!

It was hard to choose only a few of my favorite dishes to talk about. The list should really be much longer. All I have left to say now is 'buen provecho!'

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