Cartagena de Indias ‘ own gastronomy is based on traditional gastronomies from Spain and Africa, which would later become the basis for the creation of its own gastronomy.
One of the most popular gastronomic traditions in Cartagena is the sale of fruits, by the “palenqueras”, which are responsible for selling in several parts of the city. Likewise, the Cartagena have the same typical foods as the rest of the Caribbean region in Colombia, such as the arepa e’huevo, the carimañola, shrimp cocktail, the buñuelito of beans, the Kola Román, among other meals.
Cartagena’s cuisine is a merge of cooking techniques and ingredients used by natives, Spaniards and Africans, a mixture of exotic tastes that makes food irresistible.
During the overseas adventures, people from the Old Continent brought in wheat, rice, chicken, pork, beef and sugar. Yam, plantain, pepper and coconut are the most important ingredients in the Caribbean cuisine came from Africa. Meanwhile natives enjoyed earth’s benefits like tomato, potato, corn, yucca, and animals like “hicoteas” (a four legged reptile), turtles, babillas (kind of alligator), iguanas and crabs which were spicily baked or grilled.
This way stews, fried food, soups and different kinds of rice were the guide for Caribbean flavor. Tastes were improved with the coming of Arabic and Italian plates which brought eggplants, grapes, raisins, almonds, pasta, chesses, butter, wines and sausages giving a vast variety of tastes and smells to Caribbean cuisine.
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Plantain – Cartagena’s gastronomy
It is eaten unripe or ripe and there are many wonderful things that are prepared with it. It is prepared as “patacon” (pieces of plantain smashed and fried) or thin and thick fried slices with salt. On the sweet side, “Plantain Temptation” is a common companion to different dishes. It is prepared with “panela” (a brown sugarloaf), coconut milk, cinnamon and cloves. There are some other places where “Plantain Temptation” is prepared with Kola Román (a coastal soda) and “panela”.
Yam – Cartagena’s gastronomy
Yam is the main ingredient of “Mote de Queso”, which is a thick soup prepared with yam and cheese served on Holy Thursday (a catholic holiday). Yam is very important in San Cayetano, a small town located in south Bolivar where they hold party every year called the “Festival del Ñame Espina”
Coconut Cartagena’s gastronomy
It is a wonderful, exotic and aphrodisiac fruit. Used by Africans as a source of
protein, water and fat and commonly used in Caribbean dishes giving them a special touch and flavor. Coconut rice, cocadas (coconut balls made with sugar), fish soups, coconut lemonades or coconut pie, are typical dishes where coconut is the main ingredient.
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