I love cooking in hostels. Shopping for produce in a foreign country and using those ingredients to whip up a meal is an aspect of travel I enjoy quite a lot. South America is no exception, I came mentally prepared to cook a lot in hostels.
Rice is plentiful in South America, so when we stayed in a well stocked hostel, we made good use of the kitchen and whipped up a veg pulao. I was really happy to spot these tiny sachets of spices in the market and we got some cumin (comino) to use in our pulao. It was a bit bland, but we got by with what we have.
I cook with whatever is available. In this case, I was glad to find some oil to cook with. Since we are backpacking, we are hesistant to buy anything that’ll require us to transport it.
We bought onions, tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, beans, rice and cumin powder from the store. We soaked the rice while cutting all the vegetables.
Being vegetarian in Bogota is pretty straightforward, as Happycow has 36 listings for Bogota. However, as a vegan, I had a few accidents where I ended up with a bit of cream or cheese on my plate as I didnt make myself very clear in Spanish or forgot something from the list of things I cannot eat. But on the whole, since we didnt stay very long in Bogota, we got to check out only two restaurants there, both of which very good.
Av. Jiminez 4-64 (at Carrera 3, in downtown near Museo Del Oro, Cudinamarca)
They are only open for lunch and have plenty of set lunch options. I tried the vegano burger and Swami tried the set lunch plate with rice and veggies and proteins and it comes with a free salad bar and a cup of juice with water. I think you can only use the salad bar once (not unlimited, but maybe I understood it wrong). They have a little store where they sell essentials like seitan, veggie burgers, soy milk etc.
A very hearty bowl of soup for Swami’s ejecutivo (executive) lunch
My vegan burger. Even though it said “hamburgesa vegano”, it came with what looked like cheese. Luckily, Swami ate the cheese.
Swami’s executive lunch plate, which looked and tasted a lot better than mine. Very balanced.
The restaurant which we randomly spotted while walking down the road:
This seemed customary, providing a banana with some jelly like thing:
Carrera 5A N. 14-02 (at near La Candelaria historic district, Cudinamarca)
El Loto Azul is an establishment run by Hare Krishna devotees, so eggs are out of the menu. Be a little careful about the milk though, as its ever present as in most Indian dishes. But the service is really friendly and the food is excellent. They also have a tiny store selling veggie essentials.
A fresh salad from the salad bar with a mint-cilantro dressing:
Vegetable soup with maize flour:
Set lunch plate with garbanzo beans, greens, rice and bread:
Another type of plate with coconut rice, avocado and friend plantain
Fresh soy milk!
We both loved this soup, it was really hearty and filled with vegetables and tasty to boot.
El Loto Azul from outside:
My husband and I recently arrived in the city of Bogota, Colombia for our four month South American journey. We have always wanted to travel for an extended period of time and we finally got the opportunity to do so. So we quit our jobs and are backpacking around South America until April. Our tentative itinerary is to travel south from Colombia on towards Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia and head back to the States from there.
I am taking lots of food photos and will be sharing them here.
How is being vegan in South America so far?
Its not bad, but I’ve made mistakes. My spanish comprises of a few words and while I seemed to manage pretty well with it in Mexico, its harder in Colombia. Maybe because the accent is different and the pace much faster? Or is it because I am initimidated by new surroundings and forget to say key things? I dont know.
But there have been meals where I got a salad dressing that didnt look vegan or I got a dish with a layer of cheese on it. To turn it away or let it go waste goes against my principles of wasting food or respecting the pain and sacrifice that has gone into that dish. So I am trying and improving day by day.
However, we’ve managed to find vegetarian restaurants in unexpected quarters, while walking down the street and have had great fun exploring the grocery stores and cooking in hostels.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts.