One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to visit local food markets. With one day in Bogota, I visited the Plaza de Paloquemao, took a cooking class and ate a whole lot of food.

An array of brightly coloured vegetables from a vendor at the Paloquemao Market in Bogota, Colombia

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Food is a huge part of all my travel experiences – visiting markets, learning about local dishes and of course eating. Lots and lots of eating. Trip planning always includes reading about local food, what’s in season, and the best places to eat. I’m not after fancy eats, just delicious. I’d much rather taste a little bit at 7 different street vendors over one big fancy meal.

While planning for my trip to Colombia with G Adventures I came across a cooking class in Bogota. With one free day in Bogota before the tour started, spending part of it learning about and tasting food was an obvious choice. I was going to be cooking in Colombia!

Led by Uncover Colombia, it wasn’t just a cooking class but a half day food tour starting with a visit to Plaza de Paloquemao to sample some goodies, purchase ingredients, then on to the cooking school.

Plaza de Paloquemao is a large fresh food & flower market in Bogota with over 700 vendors selling fresh fruit & vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese, and fresh flowers.

Outside of Plaza de Paloquemao

Plaza de Paloquemao | Bogota, Colombia

Flowers are one of Colombia’s biggest exports with daily flights carrying them to North America. I had no idea many of the cut flowers for sale in my local shops made such a trek to get to us! The flower vendors set up outside early in the morning and by midday they are gone.

Two men outside of a red truck at Plaza de Paloquemao. Bunches of flowers are on the ground and in buckets around them as they pack up for the day.

Plaza de Paloquemao flower vendor packing up for the day.

The market was huge, confusing to navigate and my Spanish is limited to a few key words, so I was happy to have someone  familiar with the market lead me around and stop me from buying one of everything. Seriously, when I see amazing fresh fruits & veggies I can’t help but want to taste. We did stop to try a few things as we wandered through looking for the ingredients for the cooking class.

First on the list? Lechona Tolimense – a whole boneless pig stuffed with rice, peas, potatoes and spices traditionally cooked in a brick oven for several hours. The stuffing is scooped out and served with a bit of the crispy skin and a corn arepa. It was so delicious. If that was all I ate that day I would’ve been happy & satisfied. The filling was soft and flavourful while the skin was crispy and porky.

Coincidentally, this truck with pigs was right across from the Lechona vendor. We asked and it was a delivery for another vendor. And no, it didn’t bother me at all.

Three whole pigs ready for the market hanging in the back of a truck.

The next thing we tasted? Granadilla. You are supposed to make a small hole in the skin of the granadilla and suck out the insides, but in my excitement I made the hole too large and had to scoop it out with my fingers. Oops! The inside of the was a bunch of small edible seeds covered in a sweet jelly-like pulp. It was a deliciously sweet, messy experience.

A hand holding a Granadilla with a hole in the top exposing the inner seeds. Behind is an array of other fruits sold by the vendor.

Once we has purchased all of the ingredients we stopped for a fresh pressed juice then headed off to the cooking school to begin the class.

With my belly full of delicious eats from the market and a bagful of ingredients, I was ready to get cooking (and hoping we would not be eating for awhile). Stay tuned for more!

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