Attention food lovers! Your insatiable need for amazing flavors has finally met its match. Welcome to the city of salsa and tradition: Cali. The capital of dance is located in the state of Valle del Cauca, in the south-east of the country.
This region, due to its size, offers many climates, although its capital has an average temperature of 24° C. Not so far from the city is possible to find natural parks that reach the 2.000 meters above the sea level and have an average temperature of 10°C.
The reason to mention this, is to comprehend the fertile land where the best fruits grow. On the other hand, this variety is also key to understanding the culture, the people, and its history, which is finally represented in the food. So, ready to start diving deep in the Caleña cuisine?
In this list you’ll find five foods and snacks that you can try in one day, from breakfast to dinner, to keep your mouth happy.
1. Pan de Bono
This bread-like snack is famous all-around Colombia, but its birth place is Cali. About the origins, there are two versions, one involves an Italian man that came to the country, opened a bakery store and everyday would sell “Pan del Bono”, which is a combination of Spanish and Italian that translates to “the good bread”, and with the passing of time, became known as Pandebono.
The other version points to a farm outside the city. In this farm, called “Hacienda del Bono”, lived a female chef that decided to put yuca and cheese in the dough of the bread, in order to give more flavor to it, and also more nutrients for the workers of the place.
Nowadays the Pandebono can be found in almost every bakery, and the key to enjoying it is to eat it warm, fresh from the oven and with a good cup of coffee. So, to start your day, be sure to follow the smell of the baked Pandebonos and sit to enjoy. One warning, though: once you start eating is hard to stop.
2. Mango Biche
Now is the middle of the morning and you’re walking around the city, starting to feel hungry… what could you eat to beat the heat but also to satisfy your stomach? Mango with salt and lemon is the answer.
The mango biche, which translates to unripe mango, is a special snack for the lovers of the sour flavors. This traditional food is surprisingly refreshing while you eat it, although afterwards you may need a liter of water to balance the salty flavor.
Nonetheless, you can start by having a small portion of mango biche. You can find two presentations of this snack: big pieces or slices of mango covered in lemon, salt, and even pepper, or the shredded-like mango with the same ingredients. The flavor remains the same, you just choose the one you prefer and start enjoying!
3. Chuleta Valluna
Lunch time has come, and you need to try the most traditional meal: Chuleta Valluna. Remember how at the beginning we mentioned that Cali is the capital of Valle del Cauca? Well, the name of this food comes from the word Valle, which means this is the traditional dish of the region.
What is it? Is breaded pork beef, with potatoes and salad. This traditional meal can be found everywhere in Colombia, but the real unique flavor is in its homeland: Cali.
You may be wondering why such a simple dish could be so famous, and the answer cannot be written, you need to taste it, squeeze half a lemon over the beef, bite the crunchy breaded skin and feel the tender meat in your mouth to understand the magic of the meal.
The afternoon has come, and you want something sweet after lunch, but nothing big, since you’ll probably still be full of Chuleta Valluna. Well, the Lulada is the perfect snack for that time of the day.
Lulada comes from the fruit lulo, a South American gift from the mother earth to your mouth. This snack is actually a drink that you can chew. Its main ingredient is of course the lulo, in slices and big chunks, mixed with sugar, panela (sugar cane), and lots of ice.
As the ice melts you can taste the refreshing flavor of the lulo, but a real lulada is chewable, not drinkable. Remember the ingredients are mixed but not blended, so be ready to eat some fruit and try an unforgettable “drink”.
Finally the day’s over and you may want something light to eat, specially after all the things you’ve tried. Well, to keep feasting your mouth without having to eat a whole meal, you can try aborrajados.
The aborrajados are made of ripe plantain, the sweetest you can find, these are shaped like a ball and then filled with cheese. Of course, the plantain is cooked, and after it is shaped and filled, it is deep fried.
You can have the aborrajado as a part of a big meal, or just as a snack, for a light but delicious dinner.
For our extra recommendation, or ñapa as we say in Colombia, the Champú is a must when visiting Cali.
This drink is also popular in Ecuador and Perú, but Cali is the only city where you drink it ice cold.
It contains grounded corn, sugar cane, orange tree leaves, pineapple and lulo. Sweet and tasty, this drink is an exotic combination, perfect for the warm weather of the city.
So, after reading this list, what will you try first?