This is Bandeja paisa from Colombia. It is one of the best plates of food I know.
I was first introduced to Colombian food by my Dad’s girlfriend when I was around 11 years old. She would make all kinds of things that, at 11, I wasn’t very sure about. That actually caused a lot of conflict between her and I because of the cultural issues surrounding food and love, and my rejection of the food was sort of seen as a rejection of her. We had a pretty tumultuous relationship to be honest through most of my teen years.
My Dad moved to California when I was 12 to be with her for a year which literally broke my heart. He was my best friend and I couldn’t understand why my Dad would want to live on the other side of the country from me. Especially with a woman who I couldn’t get along with.
He moved back to my town and we spent some time together, but he still lived with the girlfriend, so it was problematic.
At 17, he announced he was following her to Georgia. At 19 (or so), on a visit back to Michigan I noticed that he had a tan line on his ring finger. He actually married his (then ex-girlfriend’s) cousin without telling me. That was fantastic. I was so enthusiastically happy about that. He had his reasons and I have to accept them, but it did hurt to be left out.
I have to say though, I love my Smom. She is an amazingly brilliant woman and a spectacular cook. She has other sparkling qualities, but I am fully appreciative of her abilities as a chef. I have learned to cook on the fly from her and she makes things with flavors in combinations I have never dreamed of.
I think a common misconception about Colombian food is that it might be
Spicy like Mexican food. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is very little heat in Colombian food. Just a TON of flavor. My favorite recipe (that I am still trying to liberate from this side of my family) is the rice pudding recipe. I think I may be drooling thinking about it. Not that I need it, but I might be able to die and go to heaven if I can have it again…
Regardless, despite the surprise beginning of the relationship with my Smom, I do care a lot about her. We are not as close as I wish we were because she lives in Georgia and we’ve never lived in the same place for more than a few months. She and my Dad are closing in on 20 years and seem very happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more than for my Dad to be happy and for her to be kind and loving. The food is just a bonus!