A few days ago we told you about some of the best places to visit in Colombia during the Christmas season. Today, we are going to tell you about some of the most traditional Colombian Christmas foods that you should definitely try if you get the chance.
One of the most traditional Colombian Christmas foods is the delicious buñuelo. Buñuelo are little fried golden ball of queso fresco or queso costeño (both wet, saltier cheeses) and corn flour. While buñuelo are eaten year round as a snack with coffee, they are especially common at Christmas parties, and are more common in the interior parts of Colombia—Coffee Zone, Bogotá, Boyacá, etc…, than on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts.
Another super traditional Christmas dish is a sweet pudding, or custard, called natilla. Natilla is a bit firmer than custard and is made from a mix of cornstarch or flour, shredded coconut, panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), whole milk, and cinnamon—normally cinnamon sticks, and some people add raisins. It is served cold and often accompanied by buñuelos to form a traditional coupling of sweet and salty foods.
Arroz con leche is another sweet dish eaten at Christmas in Colombia. It is made from rice, sugar, milk, cinnamon, butter, and raisins. The rice is cooked with all the ingredients over low heat, until it thickens and becomes soft. Once the rice is cooked, the dish is left to cool and then served.
In the Coffee Zone, including Antioquia, pork is a common Christmas food. Although less common than in the past, most of the pork dishes come from an event called a marranada—a traditional, “ceremonial” type pig slaughtering. During a marranada, various parts of the pig are fried and eaten including chicharrones (pork rinds), chunchullo (pig intestines), and pig ears among others. As these parts are fried, a Christmas party is organized where traditional Christmas music is played and quality time is spent with family, friends, and neighbours.
Another Christmas food traditional to Antioquia, but found all over Colombia is the hojuela. Hojuelas are made from flour, butter, and sugar and sometimes with a bit of orange zest. This mixture is fried, sprinkled with sugar and served hot! Hojuelas can easily be found in Medellin and the small towns surrounding Medellin, such as Sabaneta and Envigado.
In addition to the aforementioned dishes, many Colombian families also serve either stuffed turkey or lechona, a traditional pork dish originating from Tolima. Lechona consists of a roasted stuffed pig (yes, the whole pig), with the stuffing consisting of a mixture of green peas, onions, rice and/or potatoes, garlic, cumin, and other spices. This dish is traditionally served with arepas, a Colombian corn cake.
On the Caribbean Coast, pasteles are a common Christmas food. They are very similar to the tamales you will find in the interior—a corn flour mixture with carrots, peas, pork, chicken, and egg cooked inside a plantain leaf, but instead of corn flour, pasteles are made with rice.
Happy holidays and happy eating!
The Uncover Colombia Team
- Christmas in Colombia (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Where to go for Christmas in Colombia (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- My Favorite Colombian Drinks (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Colombian Desserts and Sweets (www.uncovercolombia.com)