Colombians loooooooooooooooove theem some fried food! Morning, noon, and night. I like to say that every breakfast is a hangover breakfast in this country. Fine and dandy if you had enjoyed a little too much Aguardiente, the economical anise tasting alcohol favored round these parts, the night before. However, not so great if you're still fighting tummy problems adjusting to the food like I still am!
But I digress...
Back to the fried food! Probably the most well known fried food typical to this region that us gringos could readily identify would be the empanada. The word comes from the verb empanar which means to wrap or coat in bread. An empanada is dough folded over whatever stuffing you fancy-meat, cheese, and/or veggies-and then deep fried. I have awoken many mornings to empanadas on my breakfast plate.
Perhaps the most typical street food and fried food of the region, something I saw on my breakfast plate often, are arepas. Arepas can be found all around Central and South America and are slightly different in each country. The arepa typical here is a flat, round, unleavened patty made of cornmeal or flour which can be grilled, but is most often fried. Other places will stuff and top their arepas with all sorts of goodies, even cutting is open and making a sandwich out of if, but here on the coast most arepas are just stuffed with cheese. Cartagena is famous for their arepa con huevo or arepa with egg. To make this you crack an egg into the arepa dough, close it back up and fry it. The egg cooks inside and it is delicious!
And what day would be complete...or breakfast that matter...without patacones! Patacones or one of my personal favorites (albiet not for breakfast). Patacones are twice fried plantains. You cut up a green plantain and fry them on each side for a few minutes. You then remove them to remove the excess oil and smush them to make them more condense, and then fry 'em again! These are a side dish eaten like french fries or potato chips. For those of you inclined towards cooking, I highly recommend giving them a try!
The fried food options in Colombia are endless (if my mom ever visits she'll get so many more options for her beloved deep frier!)! Since I've moved to Cartagena I've managed to cut out a lot of the fried food though. The host families are required to provide us two meals a day and I have worked out an arrangement that I make my own breakfast and then eat lunch and dinner with them. This allows me to start the day out with a cereal or a piece of fruit (glorious!). However, that doesn't mean that I'm suffering without fried food! I'll leave you with a picture of a lunch I was served a couple of days ago...you'll notice the patacones and a whole fried fish! Miss you all and love you lots!