You ate what?! Street Food in Cartagena
In Cartagena, Colombia, people love their fritos — fried snacks! To get an introduction to food and culture in this Caribbean colonial town, we joined Cartagena Connections for their street food and street art tour. I had never done a food tour of this sort before (normally I just roll the dice and eat whatever yumminess I find from street vendors!), but this tour was particularly helpful in a number of unexpected ways: (1) walking around with a local guide helped me get a feel for what areas were safe; (2) the guide provided historical and cultural information that I would not have learned otherwise; and (3) it’s fun to have someone there to explain what you’re eating, even if you do speak the language!
Street Food in Cartagena
We tried over ten different types of street food, including mangos, patacones, arepas, chicharrones con yuca, and bolis (frozen goodness served in a bag). The fried snacks were accessible, delicious, and cheap.
Another benefit of taking a street food tour is that it makes the whole process of eating street food seem more accessible, especially if you or your travel companion are not accustomed to eating quite so adventurously. The last thing you want on vacation is to get sick, and without knowing what is okay to eat, street food in a different country can be intimidating. While I love the general rule of “long line/busy vendor = safe to eat” and have never (that I remember, at least) gotten sick from street food, it was reassuring that our local guide was the one showing us what and where to eat.
Street Art in Getsemaní
Our tour ended in Getsemaní, a quickly gentrifying neighborhood full of street art, hostels, restaurants, and bars. We enjoyed our boli in the Plaza de la Trinidad and made plans to return to the area for dinner later in the week.
While taking a street food tour may be a pretty gringo thing to do, I say go for it if you get the chance. What better way is there to learn about a culture than through a culinary lens!