As I mentioned in the other post from this weekend, there are two main things to do in Cali: dance salsa and eat. In addition to salsa classes, my hostel also organises (almost) daily street food tours and I really wanted to go on one because I had heard it is great. But I was unlucky, there were no tours on Sundays, nor this Monday because it was a public holiday. No worries though, I googled a little bit for places to go and things to eat, and decided to do a tour on my own. I got company of my new friend, S from Switzerland, and together we took a map and started walking towards our destination: Mercado La Galeria Alameda in downtown Cali.
My orientation skills are not the best so of course we got a bit lost, and (as we were told later) were wandering around in a not-so-safe neighbourhood. Luckily I was messaging with the guy from Tinder (my new friend J, as you know now), who really wanted to finally meet me (yes I know I kept cancelling all the time). There he was, like a knight in shining armour, in front of the market when we finally arrived, and ready to be our tour guide. Life could be worse.
Even if it is one of my favourite photographing subjects (among houses, sunsets and La Vecina kids), I hadn't taken pictures of food markets in a long time. It never seizes to amaze me, look at these fruit and vegetable stands, so colourful and pretty:
Like how many different kind of bananas can there be?
And even a stand for lemons only:
The main Cali-specialty we wanted to try was a fruit called chontaduro, and we found a very friendly lady selling them. This tropical fruit looks a little bit like a tomato, but the taste is more floury. It made me think of sweet potatoes or even pumpkins but then again it didn't taste like anything I'd had before. There were chontaduros of three different colors: red, green and yellow, with S we liked the red ones best. We ate them with honey and salt as you traditionally should, sometimes they even add lemon.
There were heaps of other exotic fruits too that we got to taste, like, mamoncillo, carambola and grocella.
This funny-looking thing is even funnier to say: a guanabana.
A guyaba-manzana tasted exactly what it is called: a mix of apple and guava.
Besides of fruits and vegetables, there was of course a huge selection of warm snacks.
We chose arepas with two different kinds of cheese. It's funny how arepas taste different in every city here, these ones I liked.
This was a typical mini grocery store inside the mercado.
Fruits and arepas were a good start of our tour and enough of the mercado, so we decided to continue. Here out in the sun again and ready to go pick up our Spanish friend E, who decided to take a break from working and wanted to join us.
Next stop, a small, very traditional fast-food café called Casa del pan de yuca, were J advised us to try two local specialities: pan de bono and pan de yuca. And of course we couldn't skip the empanadas because they looked (and were) so tasty as well.
Here are my friends demonstrating, as you see on other pictures as well they were perfect food tour models.
After all this we were so full that we had to take a break at J's swimming pool. Some hours of sun, swimming, tanning and chilling did the job and we were on the road again, this time to get some champu. That is a drink from Cali, that I had heard a lot about and needed to try (besides the name sounds funny, I said it at least thousand times).
Once again, it was great to have a local showing us the way. J took us to El Ingenio neighbourhood, where we found a small street full of food stands. One of them had champu and we managed to look such excited tourists that the vendor gave us a large cup of it for free so that we could try. Champu is a mix of corn flour, lulo, panela, cinnamon and sometimes pineapple. The texture is thick and it comes with pieces of corn flour, which doesn't make it look that appealing. I think it tasted ok, E as well, but S didn't like it at all. Even if champu is very good for health, I must admit I did not become a fan.
At the stand next to champu we found one last speciality to try: chorizo from Cali. Vegetarian S passed and I thought it looked disgusting but a took a bite anyway and it was surprisingly good.
You would think that after all this we would have had enough food for a week but actually we only had a small bite of everything and thus didn't eat that much. In the evening we were hungry again and E wanted to have Mexican food (nobody disagreed). End of street food, J, our amazing local guide, knew a cozy little Mexican restaurant where we went. It is called La Taqueria.
We shared a combo of tacos (soft corn tortillas), quesadillas (soft corn tortillas with cheese), volcáns (crispy corn tortillas) and flautas (rolled hard corn tortillas), with different fillings. Everything was beyond delicious.
S is currently traveling around the world (who is jealous...) and I commented how I love her Facebook cover photo that says "Life is better in flip-flops". And so we came up with our new life motto: "Everything tastes better with guacamole", because we both love guacamole so much that we could have been happy eating only that.
After this we didn't eat anymore, but instead went dancing to burn the calories. I know I said it already in the other post but this whole day was so much fun, and so was the food tasting. Thanks for the company and thanks J for taking us around! And I'm also glad that for once everyone (my friends + the food vendors) pretty much excited about posing for my blog, I absolutely love all the pictures of this post. ;)
Read more about my days in Cali here.
Read the next story here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!