This Infamous Colombian Dish Could Feed a Whole Town

Bandeja Paisa Colombian Dish nuestro Stories

Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.

It’s no secret that when it comes to Latino culture, one of the most significant components that tie us all together is our deep appreciation of food. Gathering together with friends and family is a long-held tradition carried from the ancestors onward and has transformed food into a love language. 

Each country, each town, and each region has its own signature dish, something that has made its way into the hearts and stomachs of people from around the world. 

Just take a look at the Colombian dish Bandeja Paisa, known for being substantial enough to feed a whole farm, literally. Roughly translated, bandeja paisa means “The Farmer’s Dish,” or “The Farmer’s Plate,” — a dish of food so large and well-rounded that it requires a plate that looks more like the kind of platter you serve an entire roast pig on. 

The bandeja paisa is the most representative dish and the flagship of the gastronomy of the Colombian region of Antioquia. One of the fundamental characteristics of this dish is its abundance, both in quantity and variety of food.

The signature Colombian meal is typically made up of rice, chicharrones, minced meat, chorizo, fried eggs, avocado, morcilla, salad, tomatoes, fritas de papas, platanos, arepas, hogago, and of course, a side of red beans on the side. While a few stories point to the origin of bandeja paisa’s creation, one of my favorites that I found? We just like to eat.

In its current composition, the Bandeja Paisa is a relatively recent dish. There are no references in cookbooks before 1950 or in other documents before that date in Colombian gastronomy. However, this does not mean that it is a new dish. 

The dish originates in the envuelto antioqueño, which since the mid-nineteenth century was the only food that accompanied the muleteer of the Antioquian region and the former Old Caldas. It is a culinary compound with a generous proportion of carbohydrates since it had to supply the significant expenditure of energy in the journeys that the muleteer had to develop in his daily work.

Like many of our favorite dishes, bandeja paisa is a recipe that calls for multiple components that go into the full meal. So many that I’m confident we could create an entire cookbook based on this dish alone.

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Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.