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Colombia has been quietly sitting on a goldmine of fabulous cuisine for a while, but that’s about to change. Many people are discovering the world of flavor this country has to offer, thanks to efforts from the government, a new approach by local chefs, and an unprecedented flow of visitors to the country. Here’s why Colombia may well be the next gastronomic capital of Latin America.
To really understand how food evolved so elaborately in the country, it’s important to consider the never-ending fountain of diversity in Colombia. By carefully reading between the lines of history of each region, you can discover how indigenous peoples, Europeans and Africans all brought their individual culinary traditions to transform gastronomy across the country. All these different cultural approaches to cooking allowed local chefs to combine a wide array of techniques and ingredients in unique ways that are seen nowhere else in the world. Take the ajiaco, for example. The original dish cooked by indigenous communities of Colombia was mostly made out of three different kinds of potato found in the country: sabanera, criolla and pastusa. In post-colonial times, the dish quickly adopted new ingredients, such as chicken and capers, that are now key parts of modern ajiaco.
Gastronomy isn’t just about the ingredients, it’s also about the ingenious people behind the food. Recently, Leonor Espinosa, one of Colombia’s most prestigious chefs, has been crowned the best chef of Latin America. Her restaurant, Leo Cocina y Caba, together with Harry Sasson (the eponymous restaurant by renowned chef Harry Sasson), are both in the top rankings of the Best Restaurants in Latin America. After some tumultuous years, Colombia has emerged in a new positive light, and many chefs want to demonstrate those proud roots and traditions in their cuisine. They believe food can be one way to help transform images of society. Thanks to this positive new image, an influx of visitors from all over the world are now further discovering the diverse cuisine.
Did you know that in Colombia you can have a different fruit each day of the year? Or that you can find at least 700 different types of passion fruit? This is just an example of how vast the produce selection is. Each region has its own specialty and, therefore, their own way of cooking these diverse foods. This combination ensures that every person could find a treat in Colombia to satisfy their own taste, and explore flavors that are no less than mind-blowing, such as the cocoa cake with frozen araza cream, a fruit only found in the Amazon, and corozo, typical fruit from the Caribbean coast, which is served in one of the most outstanding restaurants in Bogota, Leo Cocina y Cava.
In October 2018, Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, will host the annual event of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. The government helped organize the festival; to show both local and international gastronomic onlookers the evolution of local Colombian cuisine. The event will also position Colombia within the ranks of Mexico, Argentina and Peru, which have successfully gained international recognition for their contribution to world gastronomy.