Food & Drink Glossary

A is for Achira, B is for Bandeja paisa, C is for Caldo de Costilla. Our list of 101 food and drink terms used in Colombia.

  • Achira: Small oval shaped savoury biscuits, made from cheese curds. From the Huila department
  • Aguapanela: Raw cane sugar dissolved in hot water, sometimes with added lime
  • Aguardiente: Colombian aniseed flavoured fire water, especially popular in the Andean region
  • Ají casero: The perfect sauce for your empanadas, made with chilli ,finely chopped onion and corriander
  • Ajiaco santafereño: A popular potato and herb soup from the Bogotá savannah, normally served with chicken, corn, capers, cream and avocado
  • Al ajillo: A buttery garlic sauce for fish, especially common in the Caribbean
  • Alfajor: The alfajor is an escapee from Argentina & Chile that has made its way to the cafés of Colombia. Two butter biscuits glued together with dulce de leche then dusted with sugar or coated in chocolate
  • Almojábana: A bread made of corn meal, wheat flour, eggs, cheese and sugar
  • Arepa: Any number of regional variations of corn patties made with white or yellow maize meal or sweetcorn, sometimes stuffed with cheese
  • Arepizza: A pizza with an arepa for its base
  • Arequipe: The Colombian name for Dulce de Leche, see also manjar blanco
  • Aromática: An infusion of aromatic herbs, often sweetened with panela or syrup, sometimes a shot of aguardiente is added
  • Arroz con Coca Cola: Rice cooked in Coca Cola, who came up with that?
  • Arroz con coco: A Caribbean accompaniment, rice cooked with coconut
  • Avena helada: A chilled drink mixture of boiled oats, water, milk, cinnamon and salt.
  • Ayahuasca: Also known as yagé or yajé. Ayahuasca is a psychoactive indigenous herbal infusion common to the Amazonas and Putumayo departments of Colombia
  • Bandeja paisa: The most famous dish from Antioquia. A huge tray of fried meats and plantain served with rice, beans, avocado and a fried egg
  • Bocadillo de guayaba: Very similar to Spanish dulce de membrillo but made with guava instead of quinces, coated in sugar and often eaten with cheese
  • Bofe: Beware the bofe, it is pigs’ lungs and definitely an acquired taste, although we are yet to meet anyone that has acquired said taste
  • Buñuelo: Perfectly spherical fried cheesy dough balls (about the size of a tennis ball)
  • Caldo de costilla: A clear broth made with beef short ribs, a common breakfast
  • Campesino: An adjective used to impart a rustic “countryside” quality in foods, campesino coffee is made with cloves, cinnamon and panela, campesino bread is less perfectly shaped and campesino cheese you could probably make in a tin bath on a hot afternoon
  • Canelazo: Aguapanela with the addition of cinnamon and aguardiente
  • Carne llanera: Beef barbecued on a conical rack over logs, a cooking method from Los Llanos
  • Cervecero: A highly condimented sausage eaten in slices
  • Cerveza a colores: Beer with food colouring in it. Now why would they do that?
  • Cerveza michelada: A Colombian take on a Mexican classic, beer served with lime juice in a tall glass with a salted rim
  • Ceviche: A far cry from its Peruvian cousin, Colombian ceviche is simply shrimps and chopped onion served in ketchup. Normally accompanied by soda crackers
  • Changua: A soup of milk, eggs and scallions
  • Chicharrón: Fried pork cracking, available in a big chunk with your lunch or in a dry form in packs
  • Chisquey: A mis-spelling of cheesecake
  • Chocoramo: A tablet of long-life cake coated in approximately 4 microns of chocolate effect veneer. A triumph of engineering over flavour but popular with Colombian children
  • Chocolate con queso: Another typical Colombian breakfast, yes it’s chocolate and cheese and yes, you are expected to cut chunks off your cheese and float them in your hot chocolate
  • Chorizo antioqueño: Somewhat delicious sausages
  • Churrasco: Grilled beef
  • Churro: A doughnut filled with arequipe
  • Cola y pola: Half cola half beer, available in cans
  • Curuba: Banana passion fruit in English, great in milkshakes
  • Cuy: Guinea pig, only really common in the Putumayo department
  • Empanada: Moon shaped fried corn snacks normally filled with beef, beef and potato, also a dough wrapped fried variety stuffed with chicken beef and rice
  • Ensalada de frutas: When is a fruit salad unhealthy and indulgent? When you a have it in Colombia with sweetened cream, jelly and grated cheese. A must try.
  • Envuelto: Sweetened corn dough with sultanas wrapped in maize leaves, normally eaten for breakfast
  • Feijoa: A favourite of The Colombian Way. A small and uncommon green fruit with tapered ends, excellent in a milkshake
  • Fritanga: Every conceivable part of every conceivable animal, fried and served in a pile on a plate
  • Guama: Known as the ice cream bean in English, a fruit that looks like a boomerang and is full of large black seeds with vanilla flavoured fur
  • Guanábana: Soursop
  • Hamburguer: Because it is illegal in Colombia for an E to follow a G
  • Hogao: A slow cooked typical tomato sauce lightly seasoned with cumin
  • Hormigas culonas: A popular delicacy from the Santander department. Toasted fat-bottomed ants, great as a beer snack
  • Huevos al gusto: Eggs exactly how you want them, so long as you want them fried or scrambled.
  • Huevos de codorniz: Quail eggs, extremely common in Colombia
  • Huevos pericos: Scrambled eggs with chopped tomato and onion
  • Jugo: Juice for Castillian Spanish speakers that are wondering where the zumo is
  • Kola Román: A carbonated soft drink from Cartagena
  • Kumis: A drinkable natural yogurt
  • La Colombiana: A bright orange coloured grenadine flavoured carbonated drink
  • Lechona: Roast pork, rice, yellow split peas. Mixed with pork fat and salt and stuffed back inside a pig. Served with a square of pork “cuero” and a plain arepa.
  • Ligth: A low calorie or healthy option. A mis-spelling of light
  • Maduro: A lengthways slice of fried ripe sweet plantain
  • Manjar blanco: A slightly thicker version of arequipe
  • Mantecada: A type of giant plain muffin cut into squares. A variety of ponque
  • Merluza: Hake
  • Mero: Grouper
  • Mojarra: A saltwater fish from the same family as tilapia, normally served fried, not common in the English speaking world but known as a blue gill.
  • Mondongo: Tripe
  • Morcilla: Blood sausage, very similar to the morcilla from Burgos in Spain
  • Oblea: A large circular wafer which does not exist in the singular. One must have at least two obleas to make a sandwich of arequipe, jam, cheese or a mixture of all three fillings
  • Old Parr: In Colombia, a premium blended Scotch whisky. In Scotland though, it is almost universally unknown
  • Pan de Yuca: A bread made of Yucca starch and cheese
  • Pandebono: A type of bread from the Valle de Cauca department, not really bread, a sort of chewy and delicious bun of cheese, eggs, corn flour and yucca starch
  • Panela: Raw cane sugar, normally available in large slabs
  • Panelita: A sweet made of boiled panela and milk
  • Pargo rojo: Red snapper
  • Pastel de pollo: A type of puff pastry triangular chicken pasty
  • Patacón: OK take a slice of plantain, squash it then fry it, then remove it from the oil, squash it some more and fry it again. Not healthy but a great accompaniment
  • Peak: A Colombian version of Red Bull
  • Perico: A short hot beverage, roughly half brewed coffee and half hot milk
  • Perro Caliente: Not to be confused with a hot dog, a Colombian perro caliente starts out life as something that resembles its American cousin, then gets adorned with ham, melted cheese, pineapple, quails’ eggs and potato sticks.
  • Peto: A desert of sweet white nibbed corn cooked with milk and normally served with a chunk of panela
  • Pincho: Not the same as a Spanish pincho, actually a meat brocheta, often topped off with a salty potato on the end
  • Pithaya: Dragon fruit in English, a delicious spiky yellow fruit that looks a bit like Homer Simpson’s father Abe, its black seeds are err… a gentle laxative too
  • Ponque: A Colombianisation of the American “pound cake.” Simply it’s what Colombians call cake
  • Pony Malta: A carbonated non-alcoholic malt drink
  • Postobon manzana: Bright pink apple flavoured carbonated drink, extremely popular and delicious. Try not to think about all the additives in it.
  • Queso paipa: The cheesiest of the Colombian cheeses, made in Paipa and has a slight beer aroma to it
  • Refajo: A mixture of beer and La Colombiana
  • Róbalo: Common snook, a close relative of the haddock
  • Ropa Vieja: Shredded beef in a tomato sauce
  • Roscón: A sort of sugary bagel filled with guava jam
  • Salpicón: Chopped up fruit pieces in juice
  • Sancocho: A soup of beef or chicken with potatoes
  • Sánduche: Any number of fillings between two or more slices of bread, named after the English aristocrat John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sánduche
  • Sobrebarriga: Flank steak, a very popular cut of beef
  • Sudado: A home-style stew of beef, pork or chicken with onions, tomatoes, red pepper, cumin and corriander. Served with rice and avocado
  • Tamal: A mixture of corn dough, chicken, pork, beef, rice and vegetables. Wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed. The most common type is” Tamal Tolimense” which originated in Tolima
  • Tinto: A short brewed black coffee
  • Totopo: No not the same as a Mexican totopo, it is what the Colombians call nacho chips
  • Trago: A shot of liquor, the standard unit of consumption for aguardiente and Colombian rum
  • Turrón: The Colombian version of this Catalan favourite is nougat sandwiched between wafers
  • Uchuva: Physalis or cape gooseberry in English. Native to Colombia they are cheap, plentiful and extremely healthy
  • Vasito: A small plastic cup that holds exactly one trago