As anyone who has ever read this blog or met me will know, I love Colombia. Simple as that. If I could marry her I would. But sadly I can’t and the best I can do is keep on waxing lyrical about every aspect of Colombia: the people, the landscapes, the biodiversity, the culture and the food. Yes, the food.
While the title of this post might be misleading, I like Colombian food. Sure, perhaps it’s not recognised as international gourmet cuisine in the same way as Italian or French food, maybe it doesn’t contain the array of spices and flavours that Arabic, Indian or Thai food does but it does the job. Moreover, there is an incredible variety of foods, owing to the contrast between each department’s local delicacies.
However, for fear of angering a number of proud locals, there are just some foods that I can’t abide. Not for want of trying, mind you, but there is no ignoring the fact that I hate these foods. It appears that, sometimes, my love for Colombia cannot overpower my taste buds.
Let’s start with the great divider – there are few people who are indifferent to this abomination. Much like Marmite (or vegemite for our Aussie readers. Or ‘some weird brown animal/plant extract spread that shouldn’t be served to humans’ to all our non-UK/Australian friends) you either love it or you hate it. My hatred started as a mere conceptual one (seriously, milk, eggs, coriander and soggy bread? No thanks) but has since moved on to become a deep hatred of this diabolical Boyaca delicacy.
In all honesty I have never tried not to hate this. As I don’t eat pork, I think fried pig intestine is about as off the cards as possible. Perhaps it’s not fair to include this on the list if I’ve never tried it, but just looking at these curly, fried bits of offal makes my stomach churn.
In a country that abounds with countless varieties of exotic, colourful and downright weird fruits, there is bound to be one that doesn’t tickle your taste buds. I am constantly blown away by the sheer number of tropical fruits here that simply don’t have a name in English. Lulo is one such fruit, but sadly its bitter, sour taste is something that genuinely makes me shiver. Or perhaps it’s the memory of paying $80.000 pesos for a jug of lulada in Cali…
Ok, ok, before you all start jumping down my throat and calling for my head for insulting a classic Colombian favourite, hear me out. Perhaps hate is a bit of a strong word. Unlike some of the other things on this list, I can just about handle an arepa de choclo or an arepa de huevo every now and again. It’s just that I don’t understand, and don’t think I ever will, why anyone would choose an arepa when bread is available. Bread is just so good. And try feeding me one of those fat, street arepas covered in butter, pineapple sauce and too much salt and I may just slap you in the face with it…
5. Hormigas culonas
Despite their supposed aphrodisiacal qualities (which, I admit, must have passed me by), I don’t think I will be lauding the merits of eating ants. A bit like popcorn but with the aftertaste of, well, an ant’s bum, this isn’t something I imagine will catch on in international gastronomical circles.
6. Cheese and bocadillo (guava jelly)
In this same category I could include cheese and arequipe and cheese and chocolate. The seemingly inexplicable Colombian desire to mix cheese with something sickly sweet is beyond me. And don’t even get me started on people putting bocadillo in my pizza crust.
I like savoury, green plantain as much as the next man (or woman), but my hatred for maduro comes back to the whole sweet-savoury quagmire. It is a banana. A very sweet one. Why, then, is it on my plate with rice, beans and meat?
Once again, I must emphasise that this is a small blot on Colombia’s almost-flawless reputation in my eyes. Sure, there are some foods that I just don’t understand and may never do so however long I live here, but I don’t have to eat them. When there are empanadas, caldo and bandeja paisa in the world, how could I complain?