When in Medellín: A Traditional Sunday Dinner

For a while now,  I’ve been loosely thinking about doing a weekly cuisine series.  I didn’t want it to sound cliché or like any of the million blogs out there that are already doing something similar.

Yesterday, while throwing my vegetarian ideals into an amoral abyss, I devoured a typical slab of Colombian steak and all of its accompaniments.  It was during that feast when the idea came to fruition:  When in Medellín: My Traditional Sunday Dinner.

On occasion, I’ll seek out a traditional dish from the local area I’m in.  Ideally it’s healthy and therapeutic local fare.  However, because this is a flesh consuming land, the main focus for now is to eat something traditional that the locals eat.

This is the first post in the series.  Because we’re creatures who learn by doing, I expect better posts to come.

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While walking the tranquil streets of downtown Prado, towards the metro stop and close to Prado 61, my Dutch-owned hotel, I came across a little dive joint and whimsically popped in:

A sus ordenes Señor.”

“¿Que es la comida tipica?  ¿Que tienes hoy?

Bandejita Paisa.”

It’s supposed to be a small version of the common Bandeja Paisa which comes from Medellín and the surrounding mountain area where the people are known as paisas.

After five minutes this sopa de pescado de consume, or fish stock soup arrived.   It was delicious.  Inside I found various mystery particles. In addition, there were chunks of fish, pieces of skin, and what I thought to be tripe.  The orange looking sliver is actually a lime that adds a hint of citrus flavor while enhancing the presentation.

Sipping this soup was a small project.  I had to constanly pick bones from my spoon and mouth.  While deverouring the bowl of soup I thought: The US must be one of the only lands where it’s possible to order boneless flesh.

NOTE: Besides the bones it’s easy to spot other enigmas that I’d  removed from my spoon and mouth.

The main course:

At about 6 o’clock you see thinly sliced, freshly deep-fried potato chips. Although not healthy, they were as good as any potato chips I’ve ever had.  They were warm and fresh off the oil-laden skillet.

Working our way clockwise you see the brown kidney beans that are a staple food here. They tasted good and provide a great deal of fiber.

One of many benefits: legumes, like beans, are helpful to the digestive system.

Keep moving around the plate and you see the best part, the salad. The taste was wonderful as it was doused with just the right amount of a vinaigrette.  Considering this was the only veggie on the plate, I would have liked more than two average-sized forkfuls.

The feature in this presentation is the steak.  Some parts were a little bit overcooked while other bites were chewy and leathery like fresh beef jerky.  The red sauce is salsa de tomate or ketchup which is the default sauce if you’re eating cheaply in these parts.

In the middle is your staple white rice.  Even though the health benefits of a simple carb are scant,  the color of the rice presents itself well with the dish. It also tastes good blended with the beans.

As you can see I had no problem devouring the entire dish, save for the meat that I deemed couldn’t be chewed.

Perhaps the best thing about the Bandejita Paisa was the cost of this set meal.   Everything, including soup, the main dish and a freshly squeezed lemonade came out to only 6,000 Pesos or $3.20.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Darren on January 9, 2012 at 20:08

    I can’t say that dish looks very appetizing, but an amazing deal for $3. Reminds me a bit of typical dishes from Mendoza, aside from that soup… which I hope tasted better than the looks of what was left on that napkin 😉

    Definitely like the “My Traditional Sunday Dinner” idea! would love to see some higher end local cuisine…


    • DARREN: The soup was delicious, bones and other insides are much more common outside of the United States. It’s one of those things that you get used to abroad I guess. Let’s see what transpires on Sunday, maybe I can find something mid-range that’ll top the Bandejita Paisa from this past Sunday.


  2. Posted by Al on January 9, 2012 at 16:53

    Yes, the bandejita looks like a close cousin of Venezuela´s pabellón, and some similar dishes from Central America. I think pabellón takes the prize, though I´m probably biased. I look forward to more Colombian cuisine sampling posts. BTW, how about some Medellin vistas and cityscapes? That is, assuming the geography affords some nice panoramic views.


    • AL: My guess is that it depends on who makes the pabellón or the bandeja paisa. As for cityscapes, the metrocable cars provide for great vistas, I’m taking a ton of shots.


  3. Posted by Al on January 9, 2012 at 14:59

    I am not much of a fish person, but since it is possibly the healthiest type of meat, I am trying hard to like it. That´s why I noticed that the paisa as in paisanos? people who live in the mountains and yet they have a traditional fish soup dish -am I correct in assuming that there is plentiful fresh water fish in the area? Personally I find fresh water fish, unlike their sea dwelling counterparts, to be usually tolerable to my palate.


    • AL: From what I understand: Paisano means fellow countryman in any Spanish speaking country. However, Paisa refers to Colombians who are from the Andes in northwest Colombia.
      As for fish, Colombia has both a Caribbean and Pacific coastline, thus the land is rich in seafood. My guess is that they have fish farms too as I see fish everywhere. The animal flesh availability outdoes the fish consumption by a long shot I’d say. I will probably need to start hitting street markets and using kitchens in my places of accomodation in order to get veggies into my diet.
      My guess is that you’d like the Bandejita Paisa dish; seems like a typical Latin American dish doesn’t it?


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