If you are returning home after a vacation in Colombia and you didn’t get a chance to try the Bandeja Paisa, kindly remove yourself from the airport security line and buy another return ticket. Bandeja Paisa is so good, it’ll make you miss your flight.
What is Bandeja Paisa?
It’s one of the most traditional Colombian foods and it can be summed up as “a festival of meat on a Frisbee-sized plate.” In fact, the word bandeja in Spanish means platter, so you know you’re in for a lot of food. Traditionally, a Bandeja Paisa consists of two types of Colombian sausage, ground beef, rice, red beans, a fried pork rind called chicharrón, an arepa, a plantain, a slice of avocado (you know, to be healthy) and a fried egg to top it all off.
Where is it popular?
The Bandeja Paisa can be found in many parts of Colombia, but the meal has roots in the Antioquia region of the country, which encompasses Medellín, Guatapé, Rionegro and more. People from these areas are called Paisas. (Colombia is very regionalized, so people from different parts of the country have identifying names and diverse cultures.) So if you happen to be visiting Medellín during a trip to Colombia, make sure to order a Bandeja Paisa while you’re there.
What is the history of Bandeja Paisa?
This Colombian cuisine has humble beginnings. It was originally considered peasant food because farmers in the Antioquia region would eat the protein packed meal for breakfast before working in the fields. The combination of meat and carbs kept them going throughout the day. Currently, Bandeja Paisa, with all its components, isn’t considered peasant food. The dish is usually one the most expensive meals on menus because it’s such a large serving of food. It can cost anywhere from 12,000 COP (4 USD) to 40,000 COP (13.50 USD) in nicer restaurants.
Where to learn more about Colombian food?
Foodies who want to learn about the history and culture of Colombia through its gastronomy should take a food and cooking tour. During the tour, visitors will have a chance to visit a traditional Colombian market, try various exotic fruits and learn about different Colombian dishes such as a hearty soup called Ajiaco and of course Bandeja Paisa. Visitors will also get a chance to make and eat their own traditional Colombian dish.
As you can imagine, Bandeja Paisa isn’t for someone who’s “not that hungry, but could eat.” Enjoy this meal on an empty stomach while traveling in Colombia. Most restaurants allow you to order a half portion and usually that’s more than enough food.