Sweaty Food??!!!


The other day my lovely helper Milena inspired me to write this post.

I was teaching her how to cook spiced red cabbage, an English dish, that means cooking red cabbage with onion, garlic, green (cooking) apples, cloves, star anise and cinnamon. By the time I finished going through the unlikely combination of ingredients, she was quiet. Kinda speechless. So, I told her, ‘this is a dish from England.’

‘Really?’

‘You don’t think it will taste good, do you?’

‘Er… no, sounds like a weird mix..’

‘It’s true, Colombian food is only sudado [sweaty]. tomato and onion tomato and onion tomato and onion. or.. Onion and tomato! That’s why you think it’s strange to use cinnamon with garlic!’ [translation: a common dish in Colombia is sudado. You boil some kind of meat, be it beef, chicken or pork, with tomato and onion, and literally ‘sweat’ the meat while it cooks and shrinks.

If it’s not sudado, then you will eat your chicharron, potatoes, yuca or patacon with a sauce called hogao, or salsa criolla (local sauce), which is made of, guess what?! Tomatoes and onions..

If you fancy something else,  you could try gratinada, which is sticking a piece of meat in the oven with some cheese (again).

Yea, I bet my red cabbage sounds weird to the people who may make use of some garlic when they feel experimental. Maybe some red peppers to stretch it. Or at best the special herb guasca for ajiaco. Or when imagination has run out, just throw in some cheese!

I’m already expecting some hostility at the point of writing, since Colombians love and are proud of their food, they love their arepas, empanadas, and patacones. I guess you love what you eat, to quote the genius French sociologist Bourdieu, so I respect that. I guess these easily pleased people who appreciate what they have help make them the happiest people on earth. According to many studies one of the keys to happiness is gratitude. To be happy with what you have.

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