Plaza de Paloquemao market is not your typical tourist destination on a visit to Bogota. It will be one of the most authentic experiences you will have on your tour to Colombia.You can visit Paloquemao to pick up some ingredients as part of the Uncover Colombia Cooking Class in Bogota.
As the story goes, Paloquemao got its name from a large dry tree in the area that was burnt down (palo = trunk; quemado = burned) and from then on Bogotanos used the name as a point of reference. The origin of the marketplace dates back to 1946 and the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao has been in its current location since 1967.
A visit to the daily market will engage all five senses and provide an insight into Colombian customs and local living in Bogota. It is the focal point where the produce of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, the fertile Andes and the tropical jungle meld together. The market is divided into sections: flowers; fruit, vegetables and aromatic herbs; and meat and fish.
Wandering through the outdoor flower market is a colourful and fragrant experience. The variety of fresh cut flowers on offer is both immense and amazingly beautiful, there are so many varieties to choose from including orchids, roses, crocuses and the exotic bird of paradise – all at incredibly low prices.
Colombia is the leading producer and exporter of flowers in South America and the second largest exporter of flowers in the world. So where better to pick up a bunch of freshly cut flowers than at the wholesale market source!
Stepping inside the bustling market, you can find almost any ingredient you could ever wish to find and many more that you probably haven’t seen before.
A stroll down the aisle of aromatic and medicinal herb stalls is a favourite stop and a chance to interact with the locals.
The weird and wonderful tropical fruits take pride of place such as feijoa, arazá, guanabana, grenadilla, maracuya and lulo, many of which are difficult to find outside of Colombia. The brown, head-shaped borojo is a truly unique aphrodisiac fruit which originates from the Colombian rainforest. Borojo has a delicious, sweet flavour – imagine plum with a hint of vanilla – and is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein.
There are plenty of cafeterias scattered about to try an exotic fruit juice and a sweet cheese-filled arepa Boyacense, buñuelo or almojabana. It is the perfect place to pick up a snack on the go or sit down to breakfast with a cup of freshly brewed tinto.
The meat section at Paloquemao isn’t for the faint-hearted. Beware of butchers in blood stained overalls hauling carcasses over their shoulder. All the meat is refrigerated at Paloquemao which cannot be said for all markets across the Andean countries. It is worth a visit to this section as the cuts of meat here vary and are often a lot cheaper than in the main supermarkets.
The pescaderias in the fish market are full of fresh fish and shellfish from both Colombian coasts and trout from the lake regions outside of Bogota.
Worthy of special mention and worth looking out for in the cevicherias is the traditional aphrodisiac drink affectionately known as rompe colchones (the mattress breaker)! The Berraquillo is an acquired taste containing the borojo fruit along with a live crab… yes, a live crab – all liquidised with wine, whisky, cocoa powder, oysters and a cup of milk into a potent seafood milkshake…. Mmmmm. Any takers?
● The Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao is located on Avenida 19 # 25-04
● Open daily: weekdays 5:00am – 4:30pm and weekends 5:00am to 2:00pm
● The best day to see the outdoor flower market is on Tuesdays and Saturdays
● It’s recommended to get there early in the morning to see the market in full flow
● You can get there by Transmilenio to Paloquemao station or take a taxi
● Take care in the surrounding areas and leave any valuables at the hotel
Enjoy your visit!
The Uncover Colombia Team