05 November, 2012

It's so wrong it's right / Es tan malo que es bueno

A long time ago, in a galaxy country far far away, I met some Colombians. Like all Colombians that I've had the pleasure to meet so far, they were full of enthusiasm for the country of their birth - regaling me with tales of all night salsa parties, weeks spent lying on Caribbean beaches, treks through virgin rainforest, and drinking hot chocolate with cheese.

Wait a minute, hot chocolate with cheese? Seriously? Since I first heard of that strange combination I have mocked it. What Brit wouldn't? If you say cheese to an Englishman he'll probably start thinking of Cheddar, or if he's partial to Wallace and Gromit (as we all should be, regardless of nationality) Wensleydale.  

Here though, to add to the confusion, it's a breakfast (but hot chocolate is for sleeping!) as common as cereal is in the UK. Colombians happily tell you it's just like putting marshmallows in your hot chocolate, but to be perfectly honest I've never thought much of that either. Nevertheless, when in Rome... 
The cheese gets ripped up and put in the chocolate. While it's melting the bread gets dunked and eaten too.

The cheese in question is like a firm mozzarella - reasonably bland but it melts (almost as) well. Once it's all soft then you fish it out with a teaspoon and get ... chocolate flavoured melted cheese. It's actually much better than it sounds!

However, the weirdness doesn't stop there... A couple of weeks ago I was served a tinto con limón. That would be a black coffee with lime. Again: Seriously?

It turns out that slices of lime don't float photogenically in black coffee, but there is lime in the cup as well as next to it, honest. 

The abundance of limes in this country (and the unexpected lack of lemons... what happened there?) makes putting lime juice in or on things common practice. If you haven't already, try papaya or mango with a squeeze of lime over it, or the next time you eat fatty pork or chicken soup do the same. Muy rico! That doesn't mean I was prepared to find lime in my coffee though :D Luckily it's one of those combinations that is surprisingly good (like chocolate limes), and in the past few days as I try to fight off a cold it's been providing me with some much needed vitamins (I think I'm winning but it's still too soon to tell). 

There are still a lot of "strange" foods in Colombia to try, but I think these are the only two are that are unique to the area (after all, you can find soups made with stomach and other "yucky bits" anywhere that people still eat traditionally), and they're certainly the only two that raised my eyebrows quite so far. 

Colombia: The only risk is... food poisoning? Thankfully not, no matter how strange the food gets ;)

PS: Colombians - if there's anything else "strange" I simply must try, please let me know in the comments! I've enjoyed everything I've tried... so far!