The 5 Colombian Christmas foods you have to try in December

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Colombian Christmas food

Joanna Ruiz

If you are planning to spend Christmas in Bogotá, you’ll be hearing some words like buñuelos, natilla, and torta negra. These are the names of some delicious and traditional eats you have to try in December.

Each country has its own traditional Christmas food and Colombia is not an exception. If you are in Bogotá, you have to try some delicious dishes that will keep your mouth watering all through December.

Most of this food is served at Novenas, but it’s very easy to find in restaurants or bakeries too. I have to warn you: you might gain some extra weight during the Christmas season, but every pound will be worth it! We all have January for making promises and exercising, don’t we?

Now that you’ve been warned, here is my list of some of the food you can’t miss in December!

Natilla

Natilla is a very popular dessert that is similar to flan. It’s made mainly of milk, but it also has cornstarch, eggs, cinnamon, and brown sugar, among other ingredients. Since I like to make my life easier and yours as well, I recommend you buy a box of natilla mix that certain brands sell. I’ve tried Maizena and De La Abuela; both are good. You just have to add milk and follow the instructions in order to prepare it. You can also add grated coconut, raisins, cinnamon, or even aguardiente (some people do it!) to make it more delicious. Is your mouth watering yet?

Torta negra (Black cake)

This is a very traditional cake that has an unmistakable taste. It has most of the regular ingredients a normal cake has (flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and baking powder), but it also includes raisins, red wine, rum, almonds, nuts, plums, nutmeg, and cinnamon powder, among others. Just like with natilla, I recommend you buy some of the delicious tortas negras offered by different brands at the market.

I have to mention my favorite one: Ramo’s torta negra. When I was a child, my dad used to buy it every time he visited Colombia, so we had this cake as dessert after Christmas dinner almost every year in Caracas. It not just delicious, but it brings me so many good memories!

Buñuelos

Colombian Christmas food
© Photograph by Mario Carvajal / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Buñuelos are fried balls made of flour and cheese. When they are freshly made, they’re simply delicious. You can have them with hot chocolate, although pretty much any drink goes well with them.

However, buñuelos are tricky to make. It’s not easy to reach the right consistency they should have (you want it to be spongy) in order to taste good. Besides, if you let the oil get too hot, the buñuelos might explode! I’m not kidding; it happened once to an ex-boyfriend of mine and we were cleaning oil from the ceiling for over a week.

My advice is very simple: buy them. The buñuelos from Pan pa’ ya are my favorite (after my mom’s, of course), but you can ask your neighbors or friends if they have a different recommendation. Many bakeries sell them, so it’s a matter of trying them until you find your favorite. If your new Colombian friends want you to try theirs, don’t hesitate to do it: a buñuelo is a gift from heaven.

Empanadas

I have good news for you: although you can eat them the rest of the year, empanadas are especially popular during Christmas (specifically during Novenas). If you are inviting your friends over, they are the perfect addition to a nice soirée: they are easy to share, eat, and mix with different drinks. All empanadas are delicious, but I have to say my favorites here in Colombia are the empanaditas de Pipián (of Pipián).

Ajiaco

You might already know that I’m an ajiaco lover! If you are too, I have some more good news for you: this soup is part of a lot of Christmas dinners. If you haven’t tried it, this is your chance. It has potatoes, chicken, corn, guascas (a kind of herb which gives this soup its characteristic flavour), milk cream, and capers. It is absolutely mouth-watering and a must during this season.

Every food during Christmas is a way to connect people and make them gather around the table. I know you might be more than ready to try everything, but if you are willing to cook as well, you should know that you can find all the ingredients at supermarkets and neighborhood stores. Sharing your culinary experiments is a way to show people you love them. That’s what Christmas is all about, right?

Have you ever tried some Colombian Christmas food? Tell me your experience in the comments section below! If you have never eaten these traditional eats, you have to do it as soon as possible!

Keep visiting Colture for more information on other nice Colombian Christmas traditions!

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