World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Colombia in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, April 28, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.
In the days counting down to my trip to Colombia, I daydreamed about the culinary delights to come. It was my first time traveling to South America and nothing excited me more than the food: exotic fruits fresh off the tree, full-bodied coffee from the richest beans in the world, and succulent steaks in a country known for its beef production.
I traveled with my boyfriend, who was born in Pereira, one of the three main cities making up Colombia’s “coffee axis.” I begged him to give me an idea of what to expect on my plate. In the past, he had regaled me with stories of eating cow’s tongue for Christmas dinner and drinking juice from tropical citrus fruits whose names I could hardly pronounce. What foods would I be bragging about when I arrived back home to the States?
“Well,” he said, thinking a moment. He shrugged. “Colombia is pretty famous for its potatoes.”
Wait. Potatoes? I was not traveling there to eat potatoes! I can eat those here. I felt like someone had just given me socks for Christmas. Had he never heard of Idaho?
And yet, on my first day in Colombia, I found myself perusing the menu at a gourmet burger place. I was baffled when the server brought my boyfriend, his two siblings and me three bowls of French fries - each of which looked slightly different.
“Try this one with this sauce, and this one too. You’re going to love it,” I was told.
They did know other countries had French fries, right? But I grabbed a few different fries and noticed that oddly, they tasted nothing alike. Some were cut into wedges and had a very thick texture and almost sweet taste. Another had been fried with more grease and a few spices and felt more starchy. Although the U.S. exports about $2 million in potatoes annually to Colombia, these tots were a new experience for me.
My boyfriend’s sister laughed. "You Americans just don’t understand the potato. We do."
Colombians, as it turns out, love potatoes. There are neighborhood stores that only sell beer and potatoes, both of which you can order by phone and have delivered to your door. Potatoes are served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and even the small meals in between.
While the U.S. has the rather demure-sounding National Potato Council, Colombia boasts the Federación Colombiana de Productores de Papa (The Colombian Federation of Potato Producers), or the Fedepapa for short. Spoken aloud, it can be heard as fe de papa: faith of the potato.
I was still dumbfounded: what was so special about these potatoes?
I posed this query on a recent Saturday to Adriana Mejia, a waitress at Las Arepas de Julia, a Colombian restaurant in the suburbs of Atlanta. She looked at me as if I’d asked why hot sauce is spicy.
“It’s important because we put it into everything,” she said, waving a hand over the vast menu. “Every dish. We fry them, we cook them, we roast them, we make them runny, we load them up, and we eat them plain. So many of our dishes need a potato to work.”
She’s right. There’s a hearty stew called sancocho that uses potatoes as a base ingredient, and caldo de papa, a clear meat broth with potatoes that serves as a great hangover cure. Potatoes are found inside fried empanadas, which are eaten as snacks.
The calentao meal takes leftover rice, meat, and potatoes — along with whatever leftovers are in the fridge — and cooks them up with eggs for breakfast. Papas chorreadas mixes oil, potatoes, scallions, tomatoes, and spices into a runny salsa, topped with a layer of cheese.
The simplest way to eat potatoes is la papa salada — boiled potatoes with tons of salt. Each recipe uses a particular type of potato, and a Colombian cook will know each variety’s specialty.
Perhaps the most famous of all potato recipes is called ajiaco (ah-hee-AH-coh). Ajiaco is the regional dish of the capital, Bogotá, a massive city set high in the mountains. Ajiaco is a thick potato soup, stewed with pulled chicken, corn, and three distinct types of potatoes. It’s served with cream, capers, rice, and avocado on the side. Those three potatoes, along with a strong herb called guascas, are the ingredients that clinch the soup into a national favorite.
Ajiaco uses the three most common spuds in Colombia: the Criolla (a small, round, bright yellow tater that thickens the soup; it is grown at a very high altitude), the Sabanera (a dryer variety grown north of the capital in the province of Boyacá and used more like the American baked potato), and the Pastusa (a softer, more crumbly potato grown in Pasto, far south near Ecuador).
Potatoes have been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years. Originally grown in Peru for sustenance, potatoes are now grown throughout Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia as well. The tubers flourish in the dry air of high altitudes, with different varieties growing better low on the mountain, or on the shady side, or where the plant is exposed to more sun and wind.
Depending on the locale and the type of seed used, potatoes can be just about every shape and color imaginable, resulting in thousands of possibilities. My boyfriend’s mother, Carmenza Gay Roa, once saw an emerald-green potato at an exhibition in Colombia, and she’s always wondered what it tasted like.
This all was a massive gastronomical surprise to me: Colombia mashed my preconceptions of potato. If you have cravings — for just about anything — you can find a Colombian potato dish to satisfy your longings and culinary imagination.
Perhaps all you need is a little faith of the potato.
A Colombian potato primer:
Though ajiaco would be the best Colombian flavor to recreate at home, unfortunately, the varieties of potatoes and guascas are not readily available in the U.S. If you want to try an easy Colombian potato dish, give papas saladas a whirl. This is Señora Carmenza’s recipe.
Here in the U.S., we use the phrase salt and pepper to describe someone with dark hair with a few grays mixed in. In Colombia, you might yell to a pal on the street, “Oye, qué pasó papa salada!” What’s up, you salted potato?
In a pot over the stove or a pressure cooker (which will make the process faster), add ten unpeeled potatoes and enough water until the potatoes are covered. Use a hard, compact potato. Carmenza recommends the pastusa or tocareña or something similar.
Cook the potatoes in water only until they are soft inside, all the way to the center. You can take a toothpick and stick it into the potato. When you lift the potato with the toothpick, and the potato falls by itself, it’s soft enough.
Drain the water, but don’t dry off the potatoes. You want them a little damp. Take one teaspoon of salt per potato — in this case, ten teaspoons — and pour the salt on top of the potatoes. Shake and roll the potatoes around until the salt sticks to the sides of the potatoes. You want your taters covered in crusty patches. The salt doesn’t have to be evenly distributed.
Allow the potatoes to dry with the salty crust. Papas saladas are traditionally served with guacamole and ají, a spicy, finely-chopped salsa. Eat them whole, pouring a little guacamole and ají on each bite.
Got a favorite tater method you'd care to share? Spud it up in the comments below.
Growing potatoes at home on the roof
Americans just don't understand the potato. Columbians do.
Colombian cuisine – from aguardiente to viche
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown
Fall in love with Myanmar's cuisine
Das Schweizer Ausgeh- und Veranstaltungsportal
Eine Plattform. Drei Nutzen!
Events – Locations – Trips
These are really impressive ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some pleasant
things here. Any way keep up wrinting.
each time i used to read smaller content which also clear their motive, and that
is also happening with this post which I am reading at this place.
My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your
post's to be exactly what I'm looking for. can you offer guest writers to write
content available for you? I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on a lot
of the subjects you write in relation to here.
Again, awesome site!
Now phone system jobs let's see what the best choice. Efficient
Call Forwarding FacilitiesA VoIP PBX phone systems provide reliable communication between the staff and with external parties easily.
All callers, including existing and prospective customers,
are greeted with recorded messages by the built-in
auto attendant functioning as the live receptionist
provides callers to your business.
The potato has nothing of European nor North American it is 100% from Bolivia and Peru.
I never understood the potato, or even really liked them, until I discovered Yukon golds - the plain Idaho/Russet is rather tasteless, and a world opened up to me upon discovering that there are varieties with FLAVOR, that I didn't have to upend salt over to make palatable.
The article is interesting - there are more varieties of potato down in South America, and for a longer period of time, than up here, and so it stands to reason that the people there would come up with recipes that respect the differing varieties. I would love to try some of these dishes. Thanks for an interesting article.
So much hate in these comments, so much ignorance. Most people should be like the author of the article and keep an open mind. The author is just trying to convey the experience had in Colombia discovering new things, trying new things. That's what you should take away from the article. Whatever else you see, is just your shaded view on life.
Now back to the point and question the author had.
One of my fave Colombian potatoe recipe is very simple. Papa con perejil (parsley)
You just peel and cook potatoes as you would normally do, get them very soft, sprinkle a bit of salt, get a bigggg chunk of butter (we Colombians are not afraid of using butter, not very healthy but very yummy), add pepper and chop up some parsley on them. My mom uses it as a side dish for when she does a fish dish. Yummmm.
Another one is the one the author had already written about. Papa chorreada. Another fave, which is also very ease to make. Papa chorreadas. (chorreadas is a bit of a slang for dripping)
Just peel, but still leave them whole, and boil the potatoes until soft. Add butter a pinch of salt to them. (again you can skip the butter bit it makes it soon much yummier)
Simultaneously do the sauce. I do it with hogao (it's a simple tomatoe sauce we do). Just add into a pan garlic chopped very fine, and I like to make the onion into more chunkier pieces. Stir them until cooked and a bit golden. I add panela to make onion and garlic golden. Its a secret I always do when I need to lightly fry onion until golden. If you don't have panela, sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar on top (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela). Then add a couple of diced (chunky) tomatoes, until soft and mushy, add salt and pepper. I also add a tad of aji, or tabasco to give it a little kick. Just a tad. It is not supposed to be spicy.
Pour the hogao on top of the potatoes. If you want (I always do) also add meted cheese on top! Voilà, enjoy.
And on another note. I do agree that if you are a big time potatoe lover after visiting Colombia, do make a trip to Peru. Their potatoe culture is MAJOR. Start with any type of causa, they have like a zillion different types of potatoes.
I also think the point of the article is not to say that we Colombians are the one and only authority in potatoes. Not at all true. The point is to explore different things and cultures. As others have said, some more violently than others, so many countries have so many different ways of cooking a potatoe. Just explore, learn about different countries and cultures and have fun!
Excellent response! Thanks.
When did CNN start allowing middle school girls to write articles? I want my five minutes back.
Taking a whole 5 minutes to read this article may indicate some other more important problems that need your attention.
Americans don't understand the potato? That's a little insulting.I'm sure the Colombians or Peruvians do alright, but we enjoy a few things, too.
French fries. Potato chips. Baked potatoes, loaded with - whatever! Twice-baked potatoes. Gnocchi. Poutine. Salt potatoes. Pierogies. Potato pancakes - all three kinds. Hash browns. Tater tots. German potato salad. Jamaican potato salad. Potato rolls. Whipped potatoes. Riced potatoes. Garlic mashed. Cheese mashed. Garlic and cheese mashed. Horseradish mashed. Potato leek soup. Potato chowder. Shoestring potatoes. Oven-roasted wedges. Oven-roasted potato skins! OVEN-ROASTED POTATO SKINS!! And I haven't even gone to my cookbooks yet - or my own secret recipes.
I feel a little like Bubba: "The potato is the fruit of the ground. You can boil 'em, you can bake 'em..."
Marijuana is the Tree of Life
Usain Bolt smoked Marijuana and became the fastest man on Earth.
Michael Phelps smoked Marijuana and became the fastest man in water.
Barack Obama smoked Marijuana and became the President of the United States.
God Bless Marijuana and the Great Humans it helps to create...!
right on bro
Up in smoke!!!
If the Columbians know potatoes so well, why do we export so many?
Because in ColOmbia there are also McDonald's.
Not sure how to take the fact your "insulted" by an article header.
We all enjoy the potato but the potato is NOT from the USA nor Europe nor Colombia, It came from the andes of Bolivia mostly and the sharing part with Peru. This is it. And thanks to that Europe (ireland specially) was able to survive.
This is a merit that should be learned and respect. Just like corn and tobaccoo came from North America.
Also tomatos came from South America exclusively and some times of coffee
I think the point of the article is that Colombians enjoy more varieties of potatoes in many more national dishes that Americans do. Amercians tend to have a more limitied view of the potato. If you travel and are open to new experiences, like the author of this article, you learn things about different people in the world – what a concept!
And in regards to the annoying pro-Romney postings, if Mitt were a potato he would definitely be a tater tot.
I heard that the mercury in sushi makes you stupid. Must be why Americans are so fat now.
A bit more research into cultures appreciating potatoes would have been in order. Having lived in The Netherlands, I can testify that they, too, adore potatoes and are very particular about which variety is used in which dish. Groceries sell dozens of types, each one sold by it's use and cooked texture. To use the wrong variety for a dish is considered very stupid.
Further, some of the dishes described are identical to dishes currently served in regional specialities in the US...salt potatoes are a delicacy, prepared in a heavy brine and boiled in barrels in rural areas of central upstate NY, the end result being tender whole potatoes, insides creamy and unsalty as the brine does not pass the skins, while the skins remain salty and crisp as the brine evaporates...
The article was about Columbian potato culture. IrishMama is a little thin-skinned and rude in her opening line. Who gets nasty over a piece on potatoes?
*colOmbian not colUmbian.
O U 8 1 2.
You are so right!! And whichever way you spell the name of the country, I think everyone knows what you meant, so why make a big deal over it!! Some people are just critical and hateful.
Hateful? No, but if I spelled your country wrong I know you wouldn't feel like they were talking seriously. I can't take CNN seriously when they misspell countries like Colombia as well. Takes their credibility away.
Smothered, covered, cheesed, chunked and hashed!
Telling people that they don't know how to enjoy a particular food is pure ignorance. If this woman likes the way they cook spuds in Colombia fine. I'll eat them the way that I like them. If she is that overjoyed by them maybe should stay there.
The ignorant, here, is taskmaster. The author of the article is just letting open minded people and narrow minded people like taskmaster know about the infinite possibilities that exist in this world about food. If taskmaster enjoys eating his potatoes his own way, ok!! Has taskmaster ever tried the delicious Irish Leak and Potato soup? I bet you it is a lot better than taskmaster's own way.
What is the next fad? Let me see, we've done tomatoes to death, Chocolate has been 'done' to death, and of course bread, now we are working on Potatoes. Perhaps we can make a food fad out of something like the humble soy bean.
Colombians just don’t understand the potato.
The Irish do.
Hahaa no one eats the variety and knows the potato better than south americans. After all they have been consuming them for thousands of years, the irish have for only a few hundred.
I thought only the Irish were infatuated with potatoes.
I think you got that kinda backwards: they love it when potatoes make them flatulent.
I've been saying this for years. Potatoes are very misunderstood by Americans. Take the biggest one that you can find and cuddle with it while you are watching television. Get a big bag of the red ones and show them some love and tenderness. Don't just put some butter on them. They need some spices that accentuate their best potential. They must be nurtured a caressed in your kitchen, accompanied by the sounds of smooth Jazz.
This kind of strange affection that you have for potatoes is not proper! The CNN moderators should reject this kind of blasphemy.
If you don't eat red potatoes raw with a little salt, then you don't love them as I do.
Be a TRUE American, Vote Republican in 2012!
Anything else is throwing your vote away to the Reds
No thanks, Not into bible beaters cramming their religion down my throat and making laws based on religious delusions. But you go right ahead there buddy, there's no law against being retarded.
How Gross. This article made my mouth water and then you bring up something as distasteful as Republicans. Ick. Can't you people let anyone have a moments fun? Besides, Obama looks more like Mister Potato Head so I'm definitely voting for him. He's also decent and smart.
I delight in, result in I found exactly what I used to be looking for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye
Take cauliflower, steam it for 29 mins. Mix in some olive oil and mash it. Looks and tastes EXACTLY like mashed potatoes but wayyy more healthy.
Yummm great advice!! I will try that one for sure!
Interesting. Still you missed two related points: while you could find around 80 varieties of potatoes in Colombia, people only use 3 or, at most, 5 varieties, the ones you find in the market. Why? Because potato production in Colombia—and thus comsumption—is strongly related to government technnology packages.
Ren: "these people?"...you think you're better than them because you eat "fries" and "poutine"?? hahahaha I guess YOU are better than the Colombians with your fat-clogged arteries...I guess YOU show THEM. Ignorance is bliss...
What people REALLY don't know about the potato? It is one of the most TOXIC, pesticide-loaded vegetables you can consume – so much so that even farmers will not eat their own potatoes. GO ORGANIC.
And yet life expectancies have never been longer.... I'll choose not to waste my money on a fad, thank you.
Said someone in 1955: Polio vaccine, what polio vaccine? We're living longer than we used to, so who needs science?
Not in Colombia...
"My boyfriend’s sister laughed. "You Americans just don’t understand the potato. We do." "
Recognize that by "You Americans", she meant You.
Though I'm sure there are as many versions as there are cooks, a few years ago I found a great recipe for Ajiaco Bogotano Soup online (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2006/03/01/ajiaco-bogotano-chicken-and-potato-soup/printer/ ). Papa Criolla are available frozen in Hispanic markets (not ideal but work well and break down to thicken the soup nicely). Guascas are available online from Amigo Foods and are essential for authentic flavor. YUM!
This is why crime sometimes pays. I was introduced to this fantastic potato cuisine by my local smuggler.
hey im half peruvian too! This is great
I love Potatoes no matter how they are prepared. I will try a potato in just about anything I eat.I got to take me a vacation in Columbia or Peru just to try their variety of Potato.
Why, knowing Peru to be the country where potatoes originated (as this author clearly does), would you go to see the love affair with the potato that COLOMBIANS have? Why not Peruvians? I know what the next article should be: "Americans' Love Affair with Vodka," or "Iraqis don't understand Brie like the Guatemalans."
Did you read the article John in az?? She clearly states that her boyfriend is Colombian and they are visiting his family. Maybe the next article should be "Reading comprehension in az"
No one eats more pizza than Americans or loves Elvis more than the Japanese.
It's globalization. Live it or live with it.
I'm from Colombia! Cool to see this on here.
Chuck Norris was bitten in the leg by a cobra once. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
People will turn into snobs about anything...My such and such is better than yours...
"Apollo 16 fakes! " Are you for real?
What ever happend to predictability?
The milk man, the paper boy, evening T.V
You miss your old familar friends, but
waiting just around the bend.
Everywhere you look (everywhere)
There's a heart (there's a heart)
A hand to hold on to.
Everywhere you look (everywhere)
There's a face of somebody who needs you.
When you're lost out there and your all alone
A light is waiting to carry you home
Everywhere you look.
Ahh Ahh Ahh Ahh Chity Chi bob botta
Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.
If Chuck Norris is late, time better slow the heck down!
Now this is a story all about how my life got twist-turn upside down and i'd like t take a minute just sit right there and i'll tell you how i become the prince of town called bel air. In west philedelphia born and raisd on a playground i have spend most of my days.Chilin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool shooting some b-ball out of the school.when a couple of guys they we're up to no good, makin trouble in my neighberhood. i got one little fight my mom got scaredand she said:ur movin to ur ancie and uncle in bel air. i whistled for the cab and he came near the license plate said FRESH and it had dice in the mirror.If anything I could say this cab was rare but I thought
"Nah forget it... Yo homes to Bel-Air!"
I... pulled... up to the house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to caby
"Yo Home Smell ya lata!"
I looked at my kingdom I was finally there
to sit on the throne as the Prince of Bel-Air
have these people ever heard of fries or poutine?
Most people also don't know that potatoes and potato plants are part of the Solanaceae family of leafy-green plants and can produce toxic levels of glycoalkaloids, including solanine (deadly nightshade). Cooking does not breakdown glycoalkaloids and any "green" potatoes should be discarded.
According to a recent report by Alexander Pavlista, a professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, a 100-pound person would have to eat about 16 ounces of a fully green potato to get sick. That is the weight of a large baked potato.
Yes, but the myths are so much more fun!!!!! (Good post, by the way. This country needs more people like you who use their brains.)
potatoes say word
It's a beautiful day to triple post like an idiot?
Don't make me take this sweater off.
If it were a triple post it would be the same exact thing...idiot. Take the sweater off....I will wrap you up in your sweeater and throw you into the sea, you little urchin. :)
To learn more check the web site of the International Potato Center (http://cipotato.org/) based in Lima, Peru. It is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption, and there are more than 4,000 known varieties, mostly found in the Andes of South America where it originates. The varieties found in North America constitute a very small sample of what's available. Potato lovers may want to consider a trip to Peru where they can taste countless dishes featuring many varieties of potatos.
Me cree usted es el estúpido y trabajar para Fox News. AMOR EN VIVO BOLIVIA
So, how is being a totally hateful person working out for you?
Calmarse vaquero! No seas un imbécil. Perú es increíble, también. Largas patatas en vivo! Muy bueno!
Obama is going to make sure you all get SMALL POTATOES and are kept in the shrinking middle class. Under the Romney Plan, those that are willing to do the work will be rewarded and will move BEYOND the middle class and become the LEADERS of Tomorrow!
Why focus on a weak middle class when you could become the UPPER CLASS?!?!
Only Romney and Ryan can lead us to victory! ALL HAIL ROMNEY, KING OF PROGRESS AND PROTECTOR OF THE ONE TRUE FAITH! Romney/Ryan 2012 or don't vote at all because you are worthless.
Typical hate speech by a typical below average intelligence Republican. I'm guessing American will be just fine because your breed is too stupid to vote.
WOW! Amazing. Everyone stop whatever you are doing an mark this moment on your calendar. Much like the moon landing, you have had the privilege of witnessing a moment that will be forever remembered.
For the first time EVER!
Someone has used a totally non-political article to push his own off topic agenda.
No one has ever thought of doing that. Wow. What a moment.
So in your plan we can all be upper class...hhmm so how does this system work? Oh I see like the robber barons super rich and super poor. The most important class in any economic system is the middle class it is imperative to a democracy. Those who are discontent will revolt. Thus it is in the rich's best interest to improve the middles class. It is important to keep the middle class strong. Too much wealth is greed not success.
Or you can just be a troll for I fear the latter more.
Money is like manure.
If you spread it around, it makes things grow.
If you pile it all up in one place, it just stinks.
Well stated dude.
Of course when you are talking about taking other people's manure to spread to your own garden – that is closer to theft.
Lots of criminals like to redistribute income. They will steal all kinds of s h y t to "spread around".
And it really doesn't matter if the Gov't helps you take it or you take it on your own – either way the righful owner is victimized.
You guys are the most annoying zealots in the world. Man you are total taliban. We are talking about foooooooooooooooooood not politics If you keep this up I'll vote Obama just to spite people like you
Now going back to important stuff hmmmmm areapas
I'm tired of Republicans trying to take away my rights. I'm also tired of Republicans thinking of rich people before the middle class and poor.
Remember the Republican Raygun who introduced the "trickle down theory"? Remember when Raygun handed out amnesty to 2.9 million illegal aliens and gave them all resident status? But you don't remember Raygun's proposal to create an affordable healthcare program that went way beyond Obama's healthcare act – it was shot down by Democracts who saw it as additional bloat to Raygun's doubling of the Federal Government. Remember that at the end of every Republican's presidency there has been a collapse of a major portion of the banking industry?
How quickly Republicans forget.
Ya think? Potatoes are native to south and central America. People in Colombia have had a few thousand years to figure it out. Everybody else hasn't. Go to any place in the world and look at what people cook with what just happens to be around them. It's usually pretty good because many of the recipes have been perfected for dozens of generations. When the potato only showed up a few hundred years ago and only in a few varieties, it's no wonder european, asian, and african cultures haven't quite got it yet!
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,112 other followers