Hi, my name’s Rebekah, and I really like food.
If you talk to me for any period of time, you will quickly learn that I like food. I like talking about food. I like taking pictures of food. I like cooking food. I like eating food. I even like discussions about food philosophy and food politics.
So, obviously, I have to blog about food here in Colombia (and Boyacá specifically).
If I had to summarize my thoughts about food in Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia, I would say: I love what I’m eating but I’m just so hungry.
I have celiac disease. I cannot eat gluten, a protein that is in wheat, rye and barley. If I do, my body launches an autoimmune attack on my intestines. Let me emphasize, I have a celiac disease diagnosis from a gastroenterologist. I am not a fad dieter who does not eat gluten because I want to be skinny.
In Tunja, (and Colombia in general), a GF diet is not common. Most people don’t know what celiac disease is and have no idea how to prepare gluten free food. There are also no specialty products; if it’s not naturally gluten free, I’m not going to find a substitute. I’ve heard rumors that there is gluten free bread in Bogotá and Medellín. I will let you know once I visit those cities.
It’s not all bad though. Boyacense food is primarily rice, potatoes, yucca, plantains and meat. Occasionally, they mix pasta into their rice or they bread their chicken, but outside of that, most things are gluten free. Any restaurant in Tunja that I have been to has something that I can eat. That being said, I mostly cook at home because I’m cheap, I like cooking and Tunja is produce heaven.
Monsanto and the American politics of food have not infiltrated Tunja. Food reflects the real cost of production. Junk food costs more than produce. Meat costs more than produce. Most produce is local and non-GMO. Also, food deserts don’t exist here. No matter where you live in the city, there is a store with fresh produce within walking distance. I get excited every time I go to the store to buy food, because it is so affordable and of such high quality.
My diet here is not that different from what it was in the United States, I just no longer eat pasta, bread, pizza crusts, crackers or anything made with flour because I can’t find them GF. I did not realize how much I would miss those calories. I eat rice, beans, lentils, garbanzos, nuts, eggs, cheese, yogurt (yogurt here is very runny because it doesn’t have gums added and thus doesn’t give me a stomachache) and lots and lots of fruits and veggies. I fry almost everything on low heat in a little bit of olive oil, because I do not have an oven.
My diet is ridiculously healthy outside of my weekly purchase of arequipe – Colombia’s fantastic version of caramel. Eating healthy is something I’m passionate about, but living in Colombia has taken it to a whole new level that now involves a diet that most people would use to lose weight, which I have no interest in doing. If you start looking at nutrition, none of these foods (except the delicious arequipe) are all that dense in calories. I’ve taken to buying pre-packaged arepas because they are “fattening”. In an attempt to consume enough calories, I eat all the time, approximately every 2-3 hours.
I’m really happy with the food I’m eating, but it’s a running joke in my household that I’m always eating. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have a regular exercise schedule. I might have to start eating during classes too.
So, if you have any ideas of whole foods I can eat that are more filling, I would love suggestions. I’ve already increased my consumption of nuts, avocados and arepas and I add a dash of olive oil to everything, just for good measure.
Excuse me, but I need to go fry up another plantain. I’m hungry again.