Though one can find a variety of vegetarian food in the small towns, such as fruit, vegetables, lentils and chick peas for example, it's not common to find these in the small restaurants, and often if you do, they are invariably cooked with meat making them out of bounds for those wishing to follow a vegetarian diet. Breakfast is not usually a problem, it's lunch and dinner which are more complicated. I tended to eat the same dinner most evenings, red beans with white rice, a simple salad and chips. It got boring towards the end, but then I knew I was close to returning home so it was bearable.
In this post I want to give you an idea of the most common fast foods available in this area of Colombia, whether in cafes or on the street. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of this food is fried, and so is not necessarily the healthiest, though what it lacks in healthiness it makes up for in taste.
Pictured above are empanadas, these come in small and large sizes, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Usually the small ones are vegetarian, being filled with potato, and the large ones normally have a minced meat filling, but always check first if you are vegetarian.
The potato filled empanadas are often referred to as empanadas de iglesia- church empanadas, as they are frequently sold to the faithful (and the not so faithful like me) outside the churches as they pour out of mass. They are also sometimes called empanadas Vaticanas-Vatican empanadas, as they only have potato - the word for potato in Spanish is papa and the Pope is El Papa in Spanish.
The pastry for the empanadas is made from maize flour mixed with some starch and water.
A staple food here is the arepa, which is similar to, though not exactly the same as, a Mexican tortilla. The shape is the same but the consistency and use is not. The arepa is a common breakfast food onto which is placed, cheese, scrambled egg, or just butter and salt. The most common arepa is made from minced or ground white maize which has previously been cooked, and is then formed into a flat round shape. There are varieties using yellow sweet corn too, and various other varieties of maize. There is also one, arepa de huevo, egg arepa, which has an egg placed inside, prior to being fried in hot oil.
Another common fried food available almost everywhere you go is, palito de queso, Cheese stick, which is pastry with a cheese filling, rolled up into the shape of a stick and usually fried.
Two other commonly found fast foods are papa rellena-stuuffed potato, and torta de pescado-fish cake. Both are fried and neither is vegetarian. I make a vegetarian version of the papa rellena, which once I have finished putting the photos from the trek from Envigado to Manizales on the site, I will post in my vegetarian recipes section.
Besides these foods, there are a variety of pasties available, with various fillings, and not all of these are fried, but the majority are not vegetarian.
So that's a quick round up of the most common Antioqueñian fast foods.
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