I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eating In Santa Marta and Ciudad Perdida

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I find that the more beans I eat, it does not lead to more gaseous release.

Our last meal on the trail- Steak, rice, beans, plantains and coleslaw.

Colombian food is not really something that pop ups on anyone’s culinary radar really. Besides Arepas, no one really has a set idea of what Colombian food is and that same idea goes for any country in Americas. It usually gets bunched together with the idea that it is basically what most Americans think when they think of Mexican fake ass Mexican food food. Meaning rice, refried beans and tortillas which yes, it is composed of a lot of rice but not what it is obviously. The food in Colombia is what I call utility food. It is food that is meant to fill you up and keep you going for the rest of the day because either you may not eat again till tomorrow or late or doing physically laboring stuff or all of the above. So rice, beans and stews were a common thing here which is not to say that the food cannot taste good. But if you are expecting for a light salad or a Lean Cuisine vegetable medley, you are out of luck.
One of the places I ate it my first day in Santa Marta was this random place I found on the side streets by my hostel in the Historic Center. I do what I usually do when I am hungry, walk around aimlessly until I see a place that has an ample amount of locale clientele that seem like they are enjoying their food (this method is quiet successful but can be time consuming). Actual food after the Jump!

Soup with corn and misc. pig parts
It did not have a name but had a small menu labeled Comidas Economico” and listed out proteins and all for 5000 pesos, which roughly translates to 2.50 US. I noticed there was a good amount of people and went for it and got the fish option. After struggling over what fish I wanted, which I actually had a choice, but no clue what each fish was. Thankfully the owner was nice enough to bring out each fish so I could point out which one I wanted and I got a fish that started with a “M”. Expecting just the fish and some rice, I was surprised that I included in this” Comidas Economico” was a huge bowl of soup consisting of potatoes, corn some kind of greens and miscellaneous pig parts (bits of random rib part and I think part of the hock?). It was actually really good and flavors were really deep and tasty enough to drink it all and ignore that fact that I am drinking soup in 90 degree weather. The fish was more surprisingly which came with rice, beans, fried plantains and a beet salad or some sort. The fish was fried beforehand and cold and had a good amount of bones but good, the rice has coconut mixed in with it which gives it a bit of sweetness. The beans were great, I am pretty sure that a bouillon cube is added to the cooking water but they were tender and cooked right. Also, I got a cup of orange juice that I did not consume, in order to safeguard myself from intestinal issues later (the reason for not drinking the juice is that I firmly believe that any stomach issues that you have travelling comes down to the consumption of the local water that gringo stomachs cannot handle). All of this for 5000 pesos, this was a lot of food and I almost did not finish it.
My other main meal I had was in the suburbs of Santa Marta in the beach resort area called the Rodadero where Colombians mainly go to chill out and beach out as I call it and if you are interested in seeing scantily clad women and unfortunately some men, this is your place. The beach is littered with multiple food options and restaurants all basically serving up seafood because well, we are by the coast.

 They are priced as tourist priced, but thankful of the strong American dollar, average price of a meal here is about 15 US. You will get the hawkers coming at you at all angles asking if you want to eat and heads up, may call you Gringo or in my case Chinito. It is nothing to get offended from just a cultural thing here. I basically ignore them and fine the most populated one and the one that does not have an annoying hawker kid trying to convince me to come to his restaurant with a combination of motions of gestures similar to those used by Jedi.

Fried Fish goodness

rice and plantain sides

 When I picked the one that satisfied me, I plopped down, and ordered grand entrĂ©e of fish and shrimp, coming in at 20 bucks US. The fish I found out was a Porgie and the shrimp I later realized was a big langoustine. Though pricey for Colombian standards, there is no question when you see the amount of food you receive is well worth your money. The fish is fried whole and then gets something in a white wine sauce that is full of shrimp, calamari and squid rings and topped with the shrimp, but it is basically a langoustine. Oh and to add to that, a side of rice and plantains. After eating this, some beach lounging and digestion is required. 

Apple Soda....flamboyantly colored and tasty. Confusion comes separately

Some of the best food and I think was representative of the typical food of Colombia was the food I ate while hiking on to Ciudad Perdida. The cook, was an amazing woman, she was hiking ahead of us, cutting up fruit when we stopped and cooking us all the meals at camp. The camps did not have electricity or gas so fire pit cooking is the only method of cooking. I did not take a lot of pictures of our meal because

A)     Trekking through the jungle, I am too tired
B)      Meals except for lunch, required headlamps or less and taking pictures by headlamp is not fun

However, here is a picture of the typical plate of food we had. Rice, beans and a pork chop stew with tomatoes and onions and a salad. Our group was small so seconds was always possible. The rice was always fluffy and the beans were tasty and flavorful. The stews may have lacked meatiness but it was always tasty. This woman was amazing producing a meal like this over a fire pit. Overall, the food was good and hearty and I was always going for seconds which I would sometimes regret when I would be walking up these hills in 85+ weather not including the humidity. Oh and by the way, I will apologize for any future Americans going if I somehow gave everyone the impression that Americans love hot sauce and spicy foods for I was dressing it on basically everything. I like spicy foods, besides it was a good source of vitamins. 

Food on the trek

1 comment:

  1. Which tour group did you go with? That food looks amazing!