Oh oh ho ho I just discovered that Colombia has a Fried Food Festival! This is my kinda place. Everyone tries to fight the fried food cravings, but if ever there was a time to let the belt out and start training for the fritto grub marathon, it is now.
So, to start my training schedule I set off in a loose fitting frock ready to take on the first of the street food vendors. My man at the stand was selling piping hot empanadas. Scooping them out of the hot spitting fat he placed them on a waiting piece of paper that was soaked in grease in seconds.
In my halting, embarrassing Spanish I asked for “dos empanadas per favor” Seems he understood that. But to be fair why else would someone be standing salivating at his stall?
He wrapped them up in a nice white serviette, handed them to me and with a nod of his head directed me to the three big jars of various salsas. One had a greeny leafy mixture which may or may not have been coriander, one a red tomato chili look and the last one was filled with the international language of lard, Mayonnaise.
“Quanta costa”? I ask, thinking please don’t speak too quickly and please let me understand the numbers.
“ Quarto Mill Peso” he states.
Right, okay ,4 thousand, I think that is what he is after.
I get out the largest note I have and hand it to him.
I use this large note technique in case I have totally got the wrong end of the stick and instead of looking like a cheapskate, I can hang around investigating the salsa jars and hoping for some change. Works every time.
Once the juggling act of putting the change into the purse, applying salsa to the empanadas, and one handedly pushing the push chair out of the way has been performed, I settle into the plastic chair that magically appears after any street-side purchase. No chance of working any of this lard off.
I am pleased I am sitting down because the Queseo Empanada is delicious- when is fried cheese not? Slathered in a vinegary chili coriander salsa it is down the hatch in two minutes flat. Luckily I have another one in my hand! This one was all chook and I am told equally delicious. I don’t know for two reasons, one that I don’t eat birds and two that Ross swooped down on the tasty treat before it even had a chance to get near my lips.
Luckily the next corner crammed with stalls was a mere 5 meters away, and this time there were silver pots with lids. It smelt so good, what was I going to do? My curiosity was at an all time high, but with my crap Spanish I didn’t want to order calf heart or intestines… I wanted fish with whatever that reddish stuff was, and maybe those were rice and beans in the pot at the back?
I worked up enough courage to ask what it is… “ Que es esto? I asked. “ blah quesblah blah para toda blah barara” is fired back at me. I have NO idea what she has just said to me. Conscious of the very busy footpath and not wanting to wast her time I say, “ uno per favor” and jostle Dash and our push chair to the side. I get a plate of meatballs with boiled yucca.
I make out like I was buying it for Ross all along and handover a cool dos mil.
We decided to sit down in the square of the oldest church in South American and munch. I gotta say sometimes being a veggo is a pain in the butt. I am constantly suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out)!
“Oh that looks hearty darling” I say to Ross.
“Yeah its okay, really salty though and to be honest Ange I think this is a miss on the street food front.” He replies.
Our progressive dinner had only just begun and not being ones to stumble at the first bad food experience we soldiered on to the next stand. Shrimp cocktails may have gone out of style in NZ in the 70’s but no one told the Colombians! We had a delicious plastic cup full of tomatoey creamy shrimps. The man who made them had been doing it for 20 odd years and he had the recipe down pat. Really simple but bang on! Served with a dry cracker and a well thought out mint for after this little “snack” rate as numero uno on the Santa Marta street food front.
Right next to Mr Shrimp is one of the many Jugo Stands. Baskets of fresh fruit hang down from the well designed yet pretty makeshift jugo carts. For 2 mill we had a pint of delicious ice cold passion fruit juice. This was something the whole family fought over, As Dash said. “yummy”
Other rico treats to be enjoyed are cheesy rice pancake things, skewers of meat and potatoes, fried mashed potato wrapped around a hard boiled egg, pork, potato and coriander soup, corn balls with cheese, and the yet to be attempted, Heart Attack Bringer- oner, fired chips coated in mayonnaise topped with deep fired sausages with yet another lashing of mayo and as a final flourish, a courtesy slither of onion placed on top in a nod towards healthy eating.