A new addition to my life since I started living in Bogota has been the regular appearance of soups and broths in my menus. Where I come from, soup is not a thing and is usually reserved for a cold winter night but in Colombia, it’s quite normal to have soup everyday. Some of the most popular traditional dishes are heavy soups such as Ajiaco, Sancocho, Mondongo, and Sopa de Frijoles.
Colombians love soups so much that they often have it for breakfast. Perhaps the most common of these is the Caldo de Costilla, a simple broth cooked with chunky beef ribs, garlic, onion, potatoes and topped off with fresh cilantro and Ají if you’re into a bit of spice.
While I love a good bowl of Caldo de Costilla any day of the week, my absolute favourite thing to eat for breakfast is probably Caldo de Pescado, a fish broth that is more commonly eaten on the coast where fish is fresh and abundant. I discovered this dish when I used to live in Teusaquillo, an old Bogotano neighbourhood located near the Paloquemao market. As the market was within walking distance to my apartment, my old room mate and I would always grab a bowl of broth when we went to do our weekly food shop.
None of the little restaurants in Paloquemao have names so they are usually identified by certain characteristics, like “the place around the corner from the panela stall.”
The place that offers Caldo de Pescado is a little restaurant I refer to as “donde papi” (papi’s place). Why? Well the guy who serves me there always calls me papi and aside from that I don’t know much else about him. He speaks with such a difficult accent that not even my Colombian girlfriend can understand him. All we know is that his Caldo de Pescado is legendary.
Every time I go, papi’s restaurant is chock full of hungry patrons, most of whom are there to eat his famous Caldo de Pescado. Filled with a generous portion of fresh bagre (catfish), yuca and potatoes, this huge bowl of nutritional goodness will offset any damage you did to your body from the night before. I can attest that I have been saved from many painful hangovers by papi’s caldo and even now that I’m not binge drinking any more, I still go crawling back to papi’s for my weekly dose.