Santander department is well-known in Colombia for it’s gastronomy: the region has a number of local delicacies and specialty dishes which are unique and different to what can be found in the rest of the country. Cities and towns like Bucaramanga, San Gil, and Barichara are the perfect places to try out these regional dishes, and there are many restaurants, cafes and street-food stalls offering them. So here’s a handy guide to the best foods to sample on a visit to Santander, so you don’t miss out on all that the department has to offer:
1. Carne Oreada
This dish, usually served as a bandeja with yucca and rice, consists of dried steak, almost like jerky. Salty and crispy, it’s an unusual texture, but is actually quite delicious.
2. Cabrito con Pepitoria
Not one for the faint-hearted, this! It basically translates as ‘baby goat with baby-goat blood and intestine rice.’ See what I mean… Cabrito con Pepitoria is, however, in spite of it’s slightly odd nature, a real treat: the goat is salty and tender, whilst the rice is almost like a meal in itself. Unusual, but recommended.
This soup (also eaten in a slightly different style in Boyaca) is a delicious piping-hot mixture of pork parts, corn, and vegetables like onions and carrots. Often served as a starter before the main dish, mute is a simple but tasty soup, perfect for when the evenings get a bit chilly.
4. Arepa…Santander style!
The Arepa Santandereana is a regional variant on the classic Colombian snack: the arepa. Made with dried yellow corn masa, chicharron (crispy pork belly) and cassava, these arepas are completely different to any arepa you may have tried before. Even if you’re not really a fan of the divisive corn-pancakes, if these don’t get you salivating then you’re made of stone…
5. Anything with goats milk…
Goat in general is pretty big in Santander: the climate is hot and dry, and the landscape is mountainous and tough, therefore goats, hardy creatures that they are, are a popular food source, much like in La Guajira. Yet, they don’t just provide a tasty meat dish, the goats also produce copious milk, which is used for everything from cheese and yogurt, to delicious sweet treats like sabajon. If the picture at the top of the page is anything to go by then goats milk is worth stocking up on for the future as well…