A journey through the senses! An essential Colombian dish, intangible cultural heritage of the entire nation since 2009.
The History of La Bandeja Paisa:
Within the broad cultural heritage of Colombia, we find the popular Bandeja Paisa. In Spanish “Bandeja” means “big plate – tray” and “Paisa” is the name of the people who come from the department of Antioquia. This dish has its origins in the Envuelto Antioqueño, which since the XIX century has formed the only food that accompanied the arriero -muleteer- (person who is dedicated to the transport of goods by animal traction) of the Antioquia region and Old Caldas. Its name was given in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, in 1950 at a meeting of the Colombian Hotel and Tourist Association. At that time the delegates were designing a manual of typical Colombian dishes and they realised that in the department of Antioquia there was still no typical dish. Until then there was something known as ‘seco‘ and this was the dish they chose as representative of the region and later they decided to call it Bandeja Paisa.
The Bandeja Paisa is the most representative dish of Antioquia and Eje Cafetero gastronomy, and it is typical for the regions of the Andes Mountains. One of the fundamental characteristics of this dish is its abundance, both in quantity and variety of foods, in such a way that the complete Bandeja Paisa can only be served on a big plate. One of the most typical details of this traditional meal is the dish where it is served, usually and the most traditional, is to use a black clay pot. Without doubt this detail connects us with our customs and our ancestors. This dish is a culinary assortment with an abundant proportion of carbohydrates, since it had to supply the great expenditure of energy in the days of travel that the muleteer had to develop in his daily work. This traditional dish is very particular, since it is made up of a series of ingredients such as red beans, plantain, yucca, rice, arepa, pork rinds, ground meat, sausage, egg, and avocado, all produced in this region.
How to prepare the beans?
Beans are the main ingredient of this dish, therefore, they have a particular preparation. These should be left soaking in water from one day to the next, this makes the grain soften, release a little ink and allow faster cooking. After about 10 hours of soaking, the water should be changed and the soaking should continue. The most desired beans are those prepared in a wood stove, however, nowadays it is not so easy to find them, therefore, they are mainly cooked in a pitadora or better known as a pressure cooker for about 3 hours. Not everyone prepares beans, nor do they all turn out delicious, which is why the hands most desired by Colombians to prepare this delicacy are those of the queen of the house, the grandmother.
Appetisers and drinks
The Bandeja Paisa is in itself a complete meal; however, in Colombian culture this is incomplete without an appetiser, a sweet or a good drink. As a starter, fried patacones with hogao’ and guacamole are generally served; and as a drink, aguapanela with lemon or mazamorra with a bocadillo (sweet guava) or grated panela (sweet cane) as preferred.
The Bandeja Paisa is a meal that is generally used for lunch and currently, due to its large number of ingredients, restaurants have started selling Mini Bandeja Paisa that is a smaller version of the original dish but that include all the same ingredients.
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Bandeja paisa: insignia del patrimonio gastronómico de Antioquia. 2022. Bandeja paisa: insignia del patrimonio gastronómico de Antioquia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.radionacional.co/cultura/bandeja-paisa-insignia-del-patrimonio-gastronomico-de-antioquia. [Accessed 08 April 2022].
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Uncover Colombia. 2022. Traditional Colombian Dish: The Filling Bandeja Paisa Uncover Colombia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.uncovercolombia.com/blog/colombian-dish-bandeja-paisa/.. [Accessed 08 April 2022].
Written by Karolina Fernández Sabogal
She holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Modern Languages and Literature and Civilization and a Postgraduate Degree in Literature and Text Production. Currently, she is doing a Study Visit at the European Parliament as part of her Master programme in Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.