If you read this blog regularly you know that I occasionally drift off subject to report on vacation food. This time it’s for the cuisine of
, Colombia, where we spent a week this March. Cartagena de Indias
Where to begin? With the characteristic dish of
Pargo (red snapper) with Creole sauce, coconut rice and patacone
Trentis Restaurante, Calle Sargento Mayor
The fish, usually plate size or smaller, is slashed on each side, then deep fried with no breading or batter. Preferred fish are pargo (red snapper), robalo (snook) and mojarra, but any small white-flesh fish or filet of a larger fish seems acceptable. We even had one (forgettable) Bandeja Tipica on a tour where the fish was frozen merluza, hake.
Mojarra frita, D’Alex Restaurante,
Plaza Fernando de Madrid
And its a great spot for an evening beer.
Recipes from The Cuisine of
Cartagena de  Indias
And patacones? Fried rounds of green plantains, called tostones in other parts of the
Shrimp, locally called langostinos or camarones, are also a favorite menu item. At left are fried langostinos over a mound of mashed plantain (similar to Puerto Rican mofongo) with a sauce of sweet corzo, a palm fruit. Left
Langostinos from Cafe Krioyo
Sweet sauces are also prominent in
’s meat cuisine. Posta Negra Cartagenera (Cartagena pot roast) is a classic: rump roast braised in a dark sweet sauce which may (or may not) include tomatoes, red wine, Seville orange juice, red soda pop and/or soy sauce. A Google search finds a dozen or so recipes, all in colloquial Colombian Spanish… and all different. I’ve translated a simple one below from Colombia en la mesa. (Note that tropical beef needs the moist intense heat of a pressure cooker, but you can also braise it for 3 ½ hours or so, or use a slow cooker.) Cartagena
Posta Negra Cartagenera, Café Krioyo
Pork is also served with sweet fruit based sauces. One evening I had pork ribs braised in beer and tamarind sauce, the headline dish on the menu of La Cocina de Carmela, a neighborhood one-waitress-one-cook, chalkboard-menu restaurant with an interesting blend of
Caribbean and international dishes. It’s not self service, in spite of the sign, and the food makes up for the décor.
La Cocina de Carmela, Calle de Badillo
But for the real
fruit experience, have a fruit salad from one of the handsome Palenqueras, among the most photographed women in the world. Cartagena
For more about Cartagena, see my travel blog.
 Román de Zurek, Teresita and Estella Arango de Morales Angel De M. 2001 The Cuisine of Cartagena de Indias: Legacy of the Spanish Cooking in Colombia. p.100 & 130.
on line at http://books.google.com Ediciones Gama, S.A.