All over the world there exists a separate tradition apart from the culinary norm – that of food sold – and eaten – on the streets. Whether a hot dog, a taco or a bridie (a spicy Scottish relative of the empanada), street food is cheap, fun and tasty. And Bogota is no stranger to the intrepid man on a bicycle selling pork scratchings and fried intestines. Here are five classic examples of the capital’s finest street food, and suggestions on where to get hold of these delicious items (fried intestines notwithstanding):
Succulent corn-on-the-cobs barbequed ovr charcoal and doused in melted butter and salt. Sold by mobile vendors all over the city, particularly in the plaza in front of the Museo del Oro on Carrera 7.
Corn or maize pancake style things, fried on a hot plate and sometimes stuffed with ham, cheese, eggs etc. Available city wide but two especially good places are Donde Fercho on Carrera 3 7 13 where the arepas come split open and stuffed (try the “con todo” – 4 types of meat, cheese, prawns and a hard-boiled quail’s egg on top), and the lady who runs a stand outside the entrance to the Universidad Nacional on Calle 26 – her arepas are huge fluffy delights filled with salty cheese.
Not strictly street food as these pastry half-moons containing an array of delicious ingredients are sold in shops, cigarrerias and cafes the length and breadth of Colombia, but they merit an inclusion here for their portable size and ease of eating on the go. They are too common to single out specific places to buy them but wherever you get them from, don’t forget the ají.
Barrows abound around the city piled high with pyramids of mangoes, pineapples, avocadoes, papaya and intriguing Colombian fruits which have no names in English. These chaps are also found city wide, but the mango biche (tart green mango served with salt, pepper and lemon juice) sold outside the Museum of Modern Art (barrio Minuto de Dios, Carrera 77 & 80) comes highly recommended.
Not at all Colombia specific but worth trying for the bizarre addition to the virgin dog of at least 4 different sauces (usually including a pineapple one that tastes like jam) and a sprinkling of crushed up crisps on top. Sometimes these too come with miniature hard-boiled eggs on top, bits of bacon and lashings of squeaky cheese. Location: city wide. Avoid the ones sold outside Salitra Magico amusement park, they taste dubious in the extreme. On the other hand, the ones sold inside El Campin football stadium are positively delicious.