Sep 25

7 Colombian foods I’ve tried not to hate

Azzam with a Colombian birthday arepa

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.



1. Changua

Changua, Colombian food by manuela y daniel
I’m not even sure I need to write anything, just look at the picture. Look at it…

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.


2. Chunchullo

chunchullo, Colombian food
Doesn’t that look simply offal?


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.

3. Lulo

Lulo, Colombian fruit
Lulo – fruit or alien spawn?















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…


4. Arepas

arepas boyacenses
To me this just looks like an army of arepas getting ready to attack me










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

Hormigas culonas
Hey, someone’s eaten most of the legs already!















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)

Bocadillo (guava jelly)
This is the bocadillo on its own. It’s fine the way it is. Look how happy it is.















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.


7. Maduro

Maduro plantain, Colombian food
Get that banana off my barbecue. Now.












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?

17 thoughts on “7 Colombian foods I’ve tried not to hate

  1. alvaro on

    I can’t imagine life without arepas… are you crazy? I hate changua but I make a mean caldo con huevo which is different. For the life of me I can’t find arepas del Valle del cauca here in the states unless my mom makes them. The paisa ones are too bland and the ones from bogota are ok once in a while but way to sweet


    Yaya on

    80.000 pesos?????????? that’s really expensive!!, I guess they saw your tourist face because it could not be that price at least it was a really big jar of lulo’s juice…. hehe

    I’m from Cali, and let me tell you that you should try it again, maybe a home made version of it, well prepared it is sweet and refreshing. My husband is from belgium and he just loves it.

    You ask why we eat arepas instead of just eating bread… well it is just a matter of culture, we all grew up with the corn culture, our grandmas used it and it is in our blood, corn is like our premium choice, we do eat bread too, but corn, like for all the communities from latin america, was THE main food choice, it is just like that. We continue the tradition, and the fact that you can prepare it yourself is a really cool thing. Of course there are a lot of varieties in which you add butter and meat, or sauce,etc… but the hot arepa with coffee or chocolate is as simple as eating bread. I always preferred eating home made food instead of eating at the street. Maybe some of your friends could invite you eat home made arepas and I promised you will change your mind! You just have to see food in its humble way…simplicity is the key.

    For the rest, You should try maduro with meat (or fish) and rice and some salad, salt and sweet food like that are a great combination. My husband didn’t like it at first but now he can’t eat without a madurito hehe.

    I hope you continue the experience and have a nice time at my beautiful Colombia and also please take care of the cities and places that you visit!!

    I found the legend of corn from our Indigenous Chibcha culture … it is in spanish… enjoy it


      Azzam on

      Thanks for your comment! Perhaps you’re right, maybe it is just a case of getting used to things. I recently had some lulo in Chocó and I loved it.

      As for the arepas, they are actually growing on me, but I will definitely get my friends to make me some homemade arepas! In any case, I will keep on trying and enjoying Colombian food everywhere I go.

      I will of course keep enjoying your fantastic country and its fascinating culture!


    ceci on

    $80.000 for a jug of lulada in Cali!?!?! It is impossible… maybe $8.000 … and the arepas on the list?? Ok. Changua neither is my favorite meal…but please give a chance to Arepas!
    I like this blog and see the beautiful things in my beloved Colombia! 😉


      Azzam on

      No, it was actually 80.000 pesos, we couldn’t believe it! I’m trying to give arepas a chance and I think they are growing on me, so maybe one day I’ll be able to take them off the list!


    Evelyn on

    Oh! Pain in my heart! Lulo? Maduro? Arepa!? What!? I’ll let you borrow my tastebuds so you can truly realize what great flavors those are. Seriously though, I’m really surprised by your choices. Hopefully you come across a better experience with those to change your mind. Don’t give up!


      Azzam on

      Thanks Evelyn, I’ll keep on trying! As I said, I don’t really want to hate these foods so I guess I’ll just have to pursue with them until I like them!


      Ivonne on

      I enjoy reading your blog but I can not believe you don’t like changua, bocadillo, platano maduro o lulo. I would almost kill…not really ;). for lulo juice. My dad’s family is from Santander and they eat those abominable hormigas culonas…yikes…so that and chunchillo, I agree with.

      Thanks for sharing your good experiences about Colombia. Love to see other people enjoying the country.

      Thanks 😉


        Chris on

        I have to say Ivonne that I don’t share Azzam’s views on most of these foods! I love changua, bocadillo, platano and lulo! And the hormigas too…

        Thanks for your comment 🙂



    Karla on

    Hey, great post! I scrolled down your list hoping to see the blood sausage morcilla (ah!), which I find less than enticing.. I have to say, #6 was also really new to me, I’ve been in Colombia for four months, but I was hooked when I first tried bocadillo with cheese! Have you ever tried a lulo popsicle? I loved it, definitely still tart. Greetings from Medellin!


      Azzam on

      Hi Karla, thanks for that. I totally agree about the morcilla, but as I don’t eat pork, that’s another one that I haven’t actually tried! It looks horrible though! Glad you’ve taken to bocadillo and cheese, perhaps I just need more time… And I’ve not yet tried a lulo popsicle, maybe that will change my mind!


    María Fernanda on

    OMG Where did you pay $80.000 For a Lulada ? What do you like ? I think you’re wasting time.


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