Street Food en Cartagena



I arrived to Cartagena de Indias with my friend Gardel for a quick week of decompression. This is the first of three stories that summarize my stay there. 

It’s the first time I’ve been to Colombia; - shame on me I know- and even though many other Colombian cities attract me quite a bit we chose Cartagena because we wanted something simple, easy and very close to Miami; actually a two and a half hour flight; very convenient. 

As with any other places I get drawn by food, people, music, their ingredients, traditions and rituals so I must mention some of things that enchanted me from this city; the architecture was certainly a highlight.

I can relate very well to Colonial architecture because I grew up in Buenos Aires, but Cartagena is un- real. I kick myself for not taking a dorky city tour that would blow my my mind realizing the value of that wall I just simply walked by on a regular stroll...

Maybe it’s just another good reason to come back.

On my ramblings in the old town I fenced-off the many vendors approaching me and managed to taste local simple street food and some restaurant food as well. I loved the fresh fruits all over the place, but fresh I mean perfectly ripe, super sweet and available everywhere from swanky hotels to street vendors. Another unexpected thing that impressed me is their versatile  use of corn.  The arepas is probably the emblem of Colombian street food and they are truly amazing in all their forms. Pasteles, tamales and I was particularly amazed by the use of it in empanadas. I usually expect an empanada to be flaky, crusty and certainly made with a flour dough which becomes crusty, instead an empanada I tried had a uniform corn-based dough cooked evenly and it was very unusual.

 It seems as if arguably the use of corn is bigger than the use of wheat flour. 

I love arepas con huevo, I'm seriously hooked; I tried deditos de queso; cheese wrapped in a finger-shaped dough and deep fried on the spot. I had heavenly tamales de pollo, amazingly taste full just like in many other cities in latin america.  

There's lots of sweets and I feel I didn't spend as much time as I would have loved to tasting and exploring them, but the coconut confections and the ones made with Colombia’s own very tasty panela are wonderful.

We drank lots guaro, un guarito; shots of aguardiente Cristal all day long. The word aguardiente intimidates you and you might think of a harsh high-octane clear drink, close to rubbing alcohol but el guaro is suprisingly very light and smooth.

As you walk through the Ciudad Amurallada you suddenly bump into these small modern food shops, predictably quaint, nicely done and they certainly spice up the city. We stayed very little in Cartagena and off we went the next day to Playa Baru. More on that in the next post.