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Colombian Cuisine and Recipes

Colombian Recipes and Cooking


Cooking by Country  -  September  2007

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Go to:-   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.



Ancient 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' diets.

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.



Current Day Colombian Cuisine


Today the Spanish influence is by far the strongest. Staple foods include rice, potatoes, corn in one form or another and beans.


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 also eaten.

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).



Colombian Recipes - Click here for lots of Colombian Recipes


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