Will the inocentes become los inocentes gorditos?

21 Oct

Today, I was Skyping briefly with a co-worker from Venezuela (who, like, gets it) and we both discussed ways in which this part of South America tries to make you fat. So, I thought I’d share it with the lot of you (all 3) so that you can also understand the ways in which Colombia tries to fatten us up (with mixed results; we athletic, son!)(Greg is athletic and I sometimes take the stairs!).

  1. Colombian mothers. In a city like Medellín, where the average female resident rates just above “Hottie McBody”, it is sort of hard to understand how there are so many stick-thin mamacitas walking around. I cannot eat a meal at someone else’s home (and sometimes I can’t eat a meal in my own home…GLORIA) without being pressured to not just eat everything on my plate, but to also eat everything else on the table, the napkins, a few crackers, a liter of fruit and dessert (just kidding; no one has crackers with their meal!). So, assuming that all of these Colombian babes have mothers, grandmothers, aunts, mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nosy neighbors, etc., how is it possible they are all s…just kidding, again. Medellín is a plastic surgery hotspot; you can gobble up that chicharrón and the next day have it sucked out of your thighs. But that isn’t my way of life, so how in the world do you say no to these Colombian mothers?!
  2. Arequipe. Also knows as dulce de leche and “another reason we are going to get fat”. Yesterday I made a postre de arequipe, which is basically a liter of arequipe, a liter of cream, gelatin and cookies left in the fridge overnight to solidify. The arequipe came in a bottle. It was a liquid bottle of caramel. DO YOU KNOW HOW DANGEROUS A BOTTLE OF CARAMEL CAN BE? Izabel (another beautiful, stick-thin Colombian), who taught us how to make the dessert, told us she just loves arequipe in her coffee. As if I needed another way to consume something that will make me fat.
  3. Chicharrón. I know how wrong it is, and yet somehow it makes its way into the things I eat. It could be a conspiracy. That’s it…deflect personal responsibility…
  4. Alfajores. This comes from my co-worker and is essentially an arequipe sandwich with two butter cookies serving as bookends with a light dusting of coconut. STOP. IT. COLOMBIA.
  5. Pasteles de guayaba. These are for real, and they sell them on every street corner bakery. It’s a buttery pastry filled with guava jam. You can’t smell one and not eat it. It’s science. They are abhorrently messy, and you’ll have butter and and pastry flakes on your fingers and lap for a few hours, but it’s totally worth it. They also make a pastel de guayaba with arequipe, and even though these are two great tastes that taste great together, I prefer to indulge in each separately to enjoy the flavors.

I’m sure there will be more, with time. Every passing day is another day of “GET FAT”.

But, to try to combat the fact that everything will make me fat, I offer you: FRUIT. You may not know how we buy our fruit, so I’d like to get into that, if you feel me.

Colombia is a fertile, fertile place, and Medellín is no exception. The outlying areas produce many of the flowers sold in the US, and are perfect places to grow everything from run-of-the-mill bananas* and strawberries to the more exotic mangoes, papayas, maracuyá…the list goes on. So most produce is cheap and delicious, and you get the best produce from street vendors.

Every morning, the vendors load up at the nearby Minorista with all types of fruit and then walk through the neighborhoods, shouting to let you know they are there. “Naranjas naranjas naranjas naranjas” (I’m selling oranges!) “Aguacate aguacate aguacate aguacate” (I have avocados!) and so on and so forth.

It’s essentially the equivalent of a bunch of roaming fruit stands. They typically will have three or four fruits they are selling for dirt cheap. The only exception to the ubiquity: strawberries.

The best strawberries are sold in white, 5 gallon buckets like these. They are all stacked with their bottoms facing up, a pointy pyramid of strawberry goodness. And some guy just walks around with these buckets, and if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, it’s “no fresas for you”, so to speak. And it’s maddening. I can’t describe how strawberry these strawberries are, but I will tell you: they have no equal. Bright red and bursting with goodness, they are the perfect addition to your meal of 1 liter of arequipe. I wish the strawberry guy had a GPS on his person so I could track his movements, but I suppose that makes our days with strawberries that much more special.

Seriously: I have seen bananas growing in the wild! It’s like an idol weeping tears of arequipe! 

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One Response to “Will the inocentes become los inocentes gorditos?”

  1. Lea Anthony October 23, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Well…..I think you are simply going to have to step away from the pasteles and eat fruit instead. I know Greg does not have the same body mass and or metabolism as Nina. When one is 5′ 2″ a few pounds extra begins to make one look like an oompa loompa.

    Be strong my warrior princess and eat the fresh fruit, stalk the fresa man if need be, but DO IT!

    Good luck and visit the gym in your building. Exercise always helps we pounds drop.
    Love and kisses and a pinch to those cheeks! xox Mom

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