Between noon and 2 p.m., Colombians eat their main meal of the day, called almuerzo. This meal consists of sopa (soup), bandeja (main course), and sobremesa (a drink or dessert). The main course contains some form of meat, chicken, or fish. The meat is served with rice, pasta, red beans, lentils, vegetables, fried plantains or a small salad. At about 6 p.m., a similar meal is served, but in smaller portions.

Colombians make wonderful soups. In Bogotá  a traditional soup is ajiaco, made with chicken, potatoes, capers, sour cream and avocado. On the Caribbean coast, seafood soups are popular and on San Andrés and Providencia islands, a soup called rendón, made of fish and snails cooked in coconut milk with yucca, plantain, breadfruit and dumplings, is a specialty. Sancocho is a popular vegetable soup or stew with chicken, meat or fish. Each region has its own way to prepare sancocho.

Colombians use banana leaves in many recipes. Quesillo is cheese wrapped in banana leaves and tamales are meat pies of meat, potato, peas, onion, eggs and olives wrapped in banana leaves. Another important ingredient is maize, or corn. Colombians eat tortillas made from maize. These may be wrapped around a filling and eaten like tamales or wrapped around an egg and fried to make an arepa de huevo (pancake with an egg). Mazamorra (boiled maize in milk) is a specialty in the Antioquia region.

Rice is often used to make desserts. Arroz con coco, a very sweet dish of rice cooked in coconut milk, is a particular favourite. Other delicious desserts include roscones, pastries with guava jelly, and obleas, wafers spread with a sugar paste.

Colombians enjoy many types of fruits that are unknown in North America, such as zapote, lulo, curuba, mamoncillo, uchuva, fraijoa, granadilla, mamey and pitahaya. Colombia produces many kinds of rum including Ron Viejo de Caldas and carbonated drinks called gaseosas.

Carne Desmechada


1 kg flank steak
˝ tsp. salt
1 tsp. minced garlic
250 ml chopped onions
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 small tomatoes, finely chopped


Marinate the meat overnight with the salt, half of the garlic, and 50 ml of the chopped onion. The next day, put the meat in a heavy casserole, cover with water and cook until tender. Drain and let cool. Shred the meat into strings with your fingers. Put the oil and tomatoes, and the rest of the onions and garlic into a frying pan. Add the meat and stir fry on medium heat for 10 minutes.