It is 9:30 am, the perfect time for a foreigner looking to enjoy the city without getting up early on your vacation and want a sightseeing tour in La Candelaria. Sunny day in La Plaza de los Periodistas, the hills frame the landscape and this is the perfect meeting point for many of the tours of the historic center. A central dome not to be missed and an open plaza to wait without losing the panorama. I wear a red T-shirt, the color associated with culinary business and appetite stimulation. Yes! This is a gastronomic tour, here come the foodie tourists (food lovers), to try the best repertoire of the Bogota cookbook in the La Candelaria neighborhood.
Diners arrive at the meeting point, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish them in the midst of the number of foreigners waiting for other tours offered. They recognize me by the shirt and ask about the Street Food Tour. Yes, before Netflix made this word famous with its Latin American documentary, we already had Street Food here.
I am Lina your guide - I answer with a smile - I introduce myself and then I give an introduction to the tour, adding some key information about the La Candelaria neighborhood, we begin the tour with an: “Are you hungry? Let us begin!!"
Our first station, the famous Santafereño chocolate with cheese, the same one that causes surprise among tourists, due to the particular fact of putting the cheese inside and then spooning it. Here we talk about Cacao as one of the most important foods for our pre-Hispanic cultures, from how this product undergoes several transformations after it was transferred to European markets, to the most recent processes of restitution of illicit cocoa crops. Tourists, laughing and mistrust, put the cheese into the bowl, and wait to follow instructions to enjoy this cacao delicacy, with the pleasant surprise that everyone finally finds it a good combination.
From there we left for La Concordia Market Square, in the middle of the containers that are still preserved to one side due to the reconstruction of the square, we stopped where Gloria, this woman who has been in the square for more than 45 years, is the most knowledgeable about the properties of fruits, her mixtures are famous long before the anglicisms of smoothies and bowls became a trend. Here you eat chopped fruit and drink natural juices, tourists most of the time take note of the number of new and exotic names for them, we guess flavors and we open the panorama to the Colombian fruit diversity thanks to our geographical position.
We leave the square and while we cross the famous funnel alley, we cannot stop trying the drink that makes this place famous, La Chicha. This drink does have a lot of history, we talk from the typical way of preparation by the Muiscas to its prohibition after the Bogotazo. The very curious customers in the story make a toast with the particular fermented drink and then take photos in the colorful murals of the alley, with the difference that for the photo this time they do not shout "cheese" but "chicha".
We go to our next stations, the ajiaco and the Santa Fe tamale, unmissable in this very Bogota gastronomic tour. Everyone has expectations of the famous chicken soup, and no more is expected, I would dare to say that it is the flagship Bogota dish that is famous even abroad and many already have it noted as a must to try in the city. After enjoying this soup that contains the famous guascas and the three types of potatoes, we continue with a Mesoamerican dish with multiple variations even within our country, the popular tamale, widely consumed in Bogota’s weekend breakfasts. These culinary samples are perfect to talk about the indigenous, African and Spanish mixture very present in our gastronomy and the family traditions around these delicacies, like the empanada, that even though it is not declared Bogotan, it clearly explains our cultural roots which is bonded to the culinary art making part of our tour.
It is 12:00 PM and my guests already feel full, but we cannot leave this gastronomic itinerary without sweetening the palate. It's time for the wafers that quickly turn heads on the street for their particular shopping carts with a photo of Mick Jagger. This typical Bogota sweet does not come from musical roots, much less rock, this crunchy wheat sandwich arose in Santafereños convents, and it was the nuns who gave life and tradition to this typical sweet that even the rock star decided to try during your stay in the city. We stop at Maria's wafer stand, she is always in the same corner, I explain the combinations to my tourists and again the cheese appears on the scene with laughter, yes, we are a cheese culture and we mix this product in many of our sweets and traditional dishes. Everyone risks trying the typical combination: arequipe, blackberry and cheese. The crisp sound and an expression of delight on their faces tells me again that the strange combination for them went well on the palate.
A culinary tour that is difficult to summarize in 1000 words, however, this tour ends here without pretending to encompass the entire gastronomy of the capital. We simply seek to give tourists a taste of the Bogota’s tradition between talks, tables and flavors, with the conviction that my work aims to make our visitors leave with a full belly, a lot of knowledge, and a happy heart.
In honor of a great
unparalleled Raimundo Rivas,
I want to give