It seemed like a pretty interesting starting point, but there we were on the corner of the Septima with Calle 19 at a McDonalds cafe.
“It’s an easy meeting point for most people to find,” Loon of Bogota Foodie says, admitting that it’s going to provide quite a contrast to what we’re going to experience on his Bogota Food Safari.
We walk outside, through the glass doors and out of the white-walled bubble that is Maccas, full of people lined up for ice-cream desserts and coffee, and out onto one of Bogota’s busiest streets, La Septima.
Cars whizz past, children in multiple layers of clothing waddle as their parents guide them by the hand through busy crowds and buses stop just long enough for passengers to jump on or off.
Loon, who is an Australian living in Colombia, has recently began taking people on food tours in Colombia, sharing the culture of his adopted home through the food.
We jump on a bus and head straight for Plaza de Paloquemao, a marketplace in the centre of town.
Before we even step into the marketplace, we see people selling fruit from the side of the road. Bananas are stacked on top of wooden slats and held up by blue crates, avocados the size of my head are piled into carts and tomatoes are packed into plastic bags, ready to be taken home and put in a salad bowls on the kitchen bench – perfect for making hogao.
It’s Saturday morning so the market is full of locals doing their shopping. I accidentally block the path of a man with a bag of potatoes thrown over his shoulder. I manage to get out of his way and into someone else’s. We wind our way through the market, passing by stalls that sell everything from eggs and pineapples to herbs and terracotta pigs.
Loon guides us through to our first stop on our food tour. There’s a string of small stalls where people wearing hairnets and white uniforms are busy cooking. The smell in the cool Bogota air makes my stomach rumble. I wan’t what she’s having, I think, looking over to a table of people sharing big bowls of soupy deliciousness.
We pull up a chair at the bright red table before a man comes over and brings out a few massive bowls. Loon lets us know that it’s sancocho de pescado, a fish soup often served for breakfast. It’s accompanied by bright red sauce called ají, which is a spicy salsa, adding a nice kick to the dish.
I want to lap up every last bit! After the soup, we slurp on hot chocolates and munch on (my favourite!) arepas.
I was hopping our next stop was going to be hammock in the sun somewhere, but that wasn’t the case. Once we were all done with brekky, it was time to discover some of the colourful, spiky, strangely-textured fruit of Colombia.
We try Granadilla, almost like a passionfruit but sweeter, Feijoa which kind of tastes like bubblegum, Guanabana a big green spiky fruit known as soursop in English. We suck on small but incredibly sweet Mangos, tiny and refreshing Lulos and bright yellow fruit, Pithaya.
As if the soup, the hot choco, the arepas and the fruit wasn’t enough, we continued walking around the markets and try some deep fried favourites, arepa de huevo and empanadas, and wash it down with some traditional juices before heading to the dessert bar down the road for some cake.
A few hours, many dishes and an extra dress size later, we wrapped things up. Now, the next time I walk through a market in Colombia, I’ll (hopefully!) be able to recognise quite a lot of those spiky, strange looking fruits and some local dishes, too.
If you’re interested in learning more about the culture in Colombia through food, be sure to head to Loon’s Bogota Food Safari. You can find more information on the website, otherwise, be sure to check out the video below. WARNING: Do not watch if you’re hungry!
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