best foods

This filling chicken soup is great for cold days, of which there are many in Bogota. Due to its elevated position in the mountains, Bogota has a surprisingly cold climate for being the capital of a (generally) tropical country. The Ajiaco soup is a great response to this. It contains chicken, potato and a wide array of vegetables and herbs. Generally it is served with aji, a paste of chili peppers, tomato, cilantro and vinegar. The soup is big meal and makes a great dinner alternative. It is said that it has many beneficial medical application as well.

Goulash with Nokedli

In my Eastern European travels I encountered sturdy dishes, most of them very tasty. One of my favorites is (the quite famous) goulash. It is a Hungarian dish and very popular all over the country. You will be able to find it in most restaurants. However, quality varies wildly, so make sure you get the good ones – ask the locals for this. The best goulash is made with beef or veal shank, and has a strong base of paprika, garlic, carrot with herbs as thyme, caraway seed and bay leaf. Goulash combines wonderfully with nokedli, which are kind of small elliptical egg noodles. They are also known as “spätzle” or “knöpfle” and are German in origin. I advice everyone to try this combination at least once.

Cumin Lamb / Xinjiang Lamb

Northern Chinese food is vastly different from Southern Chinese (or Cantonese) food. The latter is well known in the Western world, while the former is actually still quite undiscovered. One of my favorite Chinese dishes is from a northwestern region of China called Xinjiang. Due to its proximity to middle Asia, Mongolia and the “Stan” countries, the herbs and spices used in the dish are a bit reminiscent of Middle Eastern cuisine. The dish is called “cumin lamb” and basically is… lamb with a lot of cumin. Green bell pepper, garlic, onion and cilantro are also part of this wonderful dish. It combines very well with noodles.


Dapanji is another Nothern Chinese dish I am really fond of. Perhaps also because my girl makes the best Dapanji there is. The dish is basically stewed chicken combined with bell peppers, potato, chili peppers, garlic and lots of herbs and spices. Sometimes beer for the stew is added as well. It is generally eaten with long noodles or with flatbread. What makes the dish so great is that it has a very rich, diverse flavor while being very filling at the same time.

Randall Railey