Today I had lunch and I came back both full and inspired.
I sat down with my book and the waitress approached me with a slip of paper. Scribbled on it were my options for lunch:
Sopa de Pasta o Frutas
Carne a la plancha
I opted for the ‘Arroz Mixto’ and the soup before opening my book. I leafed through the browning pages, hunting down where I’d last stopped (it’d been a while). Just as I stumbled upon the receipt I’d used as a bookmark, the waitress returned with my soup. Colombian soups, for those unaware, are large, hearty beasts that could easily be considered a main meal unto themselves.
I had taken two mouthfuls before the waitress was back again, this time with my main meal and lemon juice. There’s confusion – on her part because there’s little space on the table, and on mine because I’m not sure how logistically possible it will be for me to eat two meals at once. I assure her she can leave the plate in its precarious position on the edge of the table, so she can go and serve other customers.
Yet, while I’m still trying to navigate the plate’s way onto my table, the waitress has left and returned. She has my bill.
While not exactly a vegetarian paradise, this is the wonderous world of Corrientazo (or the Menu Ejecutivo): at times unimagineably large meals for a meagre sum of money. Service is not the focus: getting you in, filling you with food, and getting you off back to work is the name of the game. So filling are they that it’s unlikely you’ll be hungry for anything major for the rest of the day, either. Bargain.
I’m pretty convinced that the Corrientazo is more cost-effective than buying your own food and, for that reason, a whole league of backpackers in Colombia are huge fans. Moreover, the food is often of a thoroughly decent – if unspectacular – quality.
I’ve seen these almuerzos for as little as $3,500, and as much as $12,000. They’re all around the towns and cities of Colombia so you should never have to struggle to find one should you travel to Bogotá or the more humble environment of Mompox.
So, if you’re hungry and want some good, hearty Colombian cuisine, be sure to check out the Corrientazo: available basically everywhere.