When this giant platter of meats - like chicken, steak, chorizo (sausage) and morcilla (blood sausage) - and starch-heavy arepas, plantains, yuca and potatoes shows up at a celebration, conversation ceases and people get munching. Most elements tend to be fried. This is not a light snack.
This starchy cousin to the banana is ubiquitous in Colombian cooking, and cooked differently depending on the fruit's ripeness from green to in between to sweet and yellow. Popular preparations include patacones (thick, flattened, twice-fried green plantains), tajadas (fried in strips like French fries), maduros (sweet and browned in oil) and used as a base for soup.
From sancocho (a hearty, potato-based stew) and caldo de papa (clear meat broth with potatoes) to potato-stuffed empanadas and ajiaco (thick potato soup, stewed with pulled chicken, corn and three types of potatoes), Colombians have nothing short of a love affair with spuds. Read an awful lot more about that here.
Many South American countries swear by seviche (often spelled "ceviche") as a flavorful and heat-free way to prepare fresh fish. But where many recipes depend on a citrus marinade to "cook" raw seafood, the local Cali variation involves a slather of mayonnaise, ketchup, onions and Worcestershire sauce over cooked shrimp. As Bourdain, says, it's "essentially a 70s shrimp cocktail" and it's served with soda crackers.
This slow-cooked, leaf-wrapped cake takes many forms around Central and South America, but in Colombia, the wrapper is banana or plantain leaves rather than the corn husks found in other regions. They're often larger, heavier and wetter than their Mexican counterparts, and may contain rice, pork belly, chicken, beef, carrots, peas, nuts, seeds - or no fillings other than their essential masa dough core.
This is aguardiente's country cousin - minus the anise, but still made from fermented sugarcane. This often homemade "rural firewater" is a frequent wingman on long nights of dancing, fried starch and general revelry.
In the words of Bourdain's companions, gesturing to the remains of a stomach-stretching seviche and patacone feast, "It's the best way to handle...this."
Explore Anthony Bourdain's favorite places to eat and drink in Colombia:
Puerta Falsa: Calle 11 - Bogota, Colombia
La Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao: Calle 19-25 - Bogota, Colombia
Tabula: C11 29 Bis #5-90 - Bogota, Colombia
Club Social Los Amigos: Calle 49 / 8A-23 - Cali, Colombia
Sevichería Guapi: CRA 24 # 13-18 - Cali, Colombia
Mercado Del Chivo: Riohacha, La Guajira - Colombia
Mar Azul Restaurante: Mayapo, Guajira - Colombia