Colombian Cuisine and Recipes
Colombian Recipes and Cooking
Cooking by Country -
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Colombia Featured Ingredient
Colombia Speciality Dish
Cooking by Country Main Page
Colombia is situated in South America and has
borders with Venezuela, Equador, Peru, Brazil and Panama plus 2950 km of
coastlines on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and Caribbean Sea.
It has extreme geographical contrasts ranging
from mountains to prairies, jungles to deserts and its territory includes
several small islands including Islas del Rosario, San Bernado, Gorgona, Malpelo,
the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia and consequently its climate is as
varied as its landscape.
Times and Influences on Colombian Cooking
Archaeological evidence indicates the area which
now comprises Columbia was occupied well over 13,000 years ago and parts of
tools used by hunter-gatherers living in the region of Bogotá exist which date
back to 9740 BC.
By 500BC there were established villages in the area where the inhabitants
relied on fishing, the farming of fruit and vegetables such as potatoes, corn,
quinoa, plantain, tomatoes, pumpkins, pineapples and avocados and salt
mining, many of which items they traded. They didn’t farm much livestock due to
the lack of suitable animals, although guinea pig was raised for meat in many
Andean areas. Potatoes, Corn and Plantain were staples of the native Indians'
The Spanish landed in the area in 1499 and by 1520 permanent European
settlements had been established. Not only did they introduced wheat, rice,
beans, cumin, oregano and cinnamon to the cuisine, more importantly they
affected the native Indian agricultural culture of the area with the
introduction of animals such as cattle, with much of the land traditionally used
for growing crops being turned over to the raising of livestock.
It was about this time that African slaves were being brought to Colombia to
replace the rapidly declining native population whose numbers had been decimated
mainly through the contraction of European illnesses such as measles and
smallpox to which they had no immunity. They too had a little influence on the
cuisine, introducing the use of vegetables such as okra.
Remnants of all three cultures are evident in today’s cuisine although the
Spanish influence is by far the strongest.
Day Colombian Cuisine
Today the Spanish influence is by far the
strongest. Staple foods include rice, potatoes, corn in one form or another and
Colombians eat three main meals a day. Breakfast
varies from region to region but often include fruit, bread, eggs, and depending
on the region, a dish called changua which is basically a potato and egg soup.
Lunch is the main meal for the day consisting of a soup and a main course which
is eaten between 12.30 and 2.30 and many businesses often close at lunchtimes
enabling families to eat it together. Many people eat a light snack between
lunch and dinner which is usually between 7 and 9pm.
The types of foods eaten differ from region to region but in general people in
rural interior areas of the country eat heartily including breakfasts which
consist of similar items such as strips of pork, rice, beans, sweet plantains or
steak with fried eggs. Dinner in these areas is similar to breakfast although
chicken and pork are popular meats. In coastal regions, as one might expect,
fish seafood plays a large part in the diet, with Caribbean coastal cooking
being especially spicy. An abundance of many types of fruit and vegetables are
Traditional recipes include Ajiaco which is a chicken and potato soup/stew (see
the speciality dish) and Hormiga culona which are fried large ants (sorry no
recipe for those here).