Being a summer-guy, I have always found Bogota to be a bit too cold for my liking. As summer approaches in other countries and my facebook feed starts to fill with painful snapshots of people getting their fill of vitamin D at the park, I find myself draped in my ruana (Colombian poncho), sipping on a mug of agua de panela and wondering why I’m stuck in freezing Bogota. How does this relate to food?
There’s no doubt that the temperature has a profound affect on what me and my belly crave. Just like how an ice cold beer makes me go “ahhhhhhhh” on a sunny day, there’s a certain time and temperature for what goes in my mouth too. I love barbecues but they’re not what comes to mind when I’m trying to stay warm. Mention stews, soups, gravy, sauce, meatballs, rice, potatoes, Sunday roasts and now you’ve got my attention.
In the Andean region of Colombia, stews and soups make regular appearances in traditional dining rooms and amongst the best-ofs sits guiso de cola (oxtail stew). The oxtail is braised in beef broth, tomato, onion, peas, carrots and later mixed in with potatoes and yuca. It is then sprinkled with cilantro and served with a plate of rice and a slice of avocado. Whenever I am served one of these things, I always ask myself where do I begin? I put myself in marathon-mode and take it down nice and slow so I can enjoy every single mouthful. From the succulent meat falling off the bone to scooping up the thick sauce and dumping it over the soft bed of rice and potatoes, it’s all good fun.
Guiso de cola joins the ranks amongst the many hearty, workman’s meals that makes up a majority of Colombia’s culinary resume. It’s a real abuelita’s (grandma’s) classic with a stick-t0-the-ribs goodness that will leave you feeling the love that was put into getting it to your plate. After you’re done, you might just have enough energy to lift yourself from the dining table and onto the couch for a cheeky slumber.