Colombians like to snack. At least, that’s the impression I got from walking around snacking here. There was a lot of non-heavy food available that was obviously not meant to fill your belly (and some that was a little heavy). Here is a short list of what we encountered and scarfed.
Pastries and sweets! There were some terrific bakeries here that make some top-notch desserts. Tarts, small cakes, éclairs – we tried a couple of things from a little place around the corner from our hostel and were not disappointed in the least.
Fried plantains were a favourite of mine from the first time I tried them in Peru. They’re almost always available on the street, they’re crunchy, they’re salty – perfect in my books! Plantains are not sweet, either, so they’re not the dried-banana taste which, though I love them, can get to be too much sweet when I eat too many. (Granted, too many is a LOT of banana chips.) I don’t know if I could eat too many fried plantains.
Ants were not a snack that I would indulge in too much, but we tried them anyway! As you may guess, I was the instigator here. They only come from one province in the country – not the capital – but we found a store selling them and decided to try them. Hormiga culona, as they are known. They tasted meaty and buttery. I wasn’t a huge fan – that richness was a little too much for me. It may not have helped that we were sampling them for breakfast.
Street pancakes – as I have no idea what else to call them – were paper-thin pancakes smeared inside with your choice of toppings then handed to you, about to drip. The fun was eating it without getting it all over yourself. Typical toppings were chocolate, raspberry, manjar blanco, and cream. Definitely snack food, as they were not filling at all. I enjoyed my cream and raspberry.
Cartagena yielded a large number of snacks that we came back to day after day. These women (there were a very small number of men) would hang out just inside the old city in the shade with carts carrying glass jars filled with different kinds of candy. Many of them were coconut based, but there were others. The picture, starting upper left, going clockwise: coconut with guava flavours, a molasses and sesame ball, coconut with pineapple flavour, peanut brittle, and ‘chocolate balls’ (made from corn flour, nutmeg, and powdered cacao bean). The coconuts were delicious and there were many more flavours. The peanut brittle was like good peanut brittle, but I love that stuff, so I ate it with gusto. The sesame balls disappeared quickly as well. The chocolate balls were the real surprise. They tasted like Christmas – it was the nutmeg. There was a lot of it, at least at our favourite vendor (we tried others and it was much more subtle). There was no sugar – the cacao was pure. Really, really tasty candy. No wonder we went back every day!
Of course it wasn’t available anywhere in the country, but we did sample some origin chocolate sold in the airport. I don’t recall where in Colombia it was from, but it was tasty. This one was with little bits of passionfruit, which was absolutely delectable – little sweet, tart bits with every bite of yummy dark chocolate. Very much worth picking up, as everything here was!