Hispanic Heritage Food Tour
I met with Carolina Piedrahita and Juan Lopez owners of Antojitos y Algo Mas a Colombian Restaurant in Reading Pa. One of my first questions I always like to start with is; how did you end up here in our City?
Caro, short for Carolina tells me that she was born and raised in Colombia but moved to Queens NY many years ago at the age of 19. About 2 years ago she moved to our city but when she asked a friend let’s grab some Colombian food she was amazed that with such a high percentage of Latinos living here that there were no Colombian restaurants in town. She immediately thought I must bring our authentic, fresh cuisine to this town and so she did.
If when you think of Colombia and the first thing that comes to mind is drugs & Cartels than you are watching way too much TV and have lots to learn. That is a horrible stereotype that we must squash. Colombians want you to learn their true culture via their flavorful food that is a unique blend of indigenous and European traditions with a strong Afro-Caribbean influence among many other beautiful traditions. They have beautiful and tropical landscapes that include tropical rainforest and beautiful mountains. Their country has lots of diversity. They also have great wildlife with more than 200 species of birds.
Until I am able to visit Colombia, I will enjoy their food here in the states. Have you ever ate a plate called a tour of Italy at an Italian restaurant, then the Bandeja Paisa is a great plate to try as it’s like a tour of Colombia. They are also known for their great coffee and their empanadas. For me when I’m not dieting, it’s a special treat to go and have all the flavors I like all on one plate. The Bandeja Paisa includes rice & beans, ground beef or carne asada, chorizo (pork sausage), fried egg, arepa (corn patty), and chicharrón (pork rind). It is usually accompanied by a slice of avocado and a special sauce. It’s literally a mouthful!
Let’s talk about empanadas and baked goods. I love their empanadas (fried cornmeal stuffed patties); they are a perfect appetizer that is usually accompanied by Ají Picante, a spicy raw cilantro-based sauce, which is used as a condiment for many dishes and sides. Also, empanadas are perfect with a nice cup of Colombian coffee and cream. Not to mention their bread and Caro sells lots of freshly made buñuelos and Pandebono. Buñuelos are deep-fried dough balls made especially during Christmas and their Pandebono, is made with cheese and cassava flour and their Costeño cheese.
So if you are looking to support local and escape from your everyday food, stop by and visit Caro and Juan, you will feel the Colombian hospitality at its best.
Rosa Julia Parra