To survive they began trading with the Indios for food. They eventually learned to cultivate yuca, papaya, avocado and plantains, to conserve meat, and brought with them their old recipes and eating habits, all of which created an entirely new mix of food culture. The vast and lush plains offered ideal conditions for feeding cattle and cultivating rice and the rivers were rich in fish.
Today Llanero cuisine is copied all around Colombia and its beef is considered the best in the country. While many even think that beef is all there to Los Llanos, the region also convinces with delicious fish, soups and fruit.
Let’s start our day at the local food market, shall we?
Yopal’s food market has a section that consists only of restaurants. They are simple but good and focused mainly on breakfasts. You may want to start the day with black pudding sausages (rellenas) and greasy potatoes if you’re hungover. But I urge you to go for fish broth instead, a healthy and delicious alternative. The Llanos’ rivers are rich in fish such as catfish and cachama. They come with patacones (smashed plantain cracker), small arepa (corn flour pancake) and slices of juicy limes.
Another popular breakfast are hallacas, corn puree with pork cooked in bijao leaves. Wash these delicacies down with freshly squeezed orange or mandarine juice!
The most typical lunch would be mamona, a very young cow (about 6 months old), slightly salted and slowly roasted on sticks around an outdoor fire (picture below).
Many restaurants also offer marrano, pork. If you cannot decided ask for mixta, and you’ll get a mixed plate. Meat is accompanied by yuca, salted potatoes and occasionally also by plantains, salad and guacamole. Ají, a slightly spicy chili sauce, is drippled over meat and vegetables.
Popular soups to accompany lunch are sancocho de gallina (chicken soup) and sancocho de res (beef soup).
If you are more into fish, then bagre (catfish) or cachama are your most regional choices. They are usually accompanied by salad, rice and plantains.
The llaneros ride across the prairies for hours, sometimes days. Traditionally, their snacks have to keep fresh without a fridge and be nutritious.
Dry cured or fried meat and fried plantains are an all-time favorite.
Bastimento consists of plantain crisps and dry cured beef and pork and is the most typical snack across Los Llanos.
Other favorites include avocados, envueltos de arroz or tungo (rice puree wrapped and cooked in bijao leaves) and hand-made cheese, queso de mano, from fresh cows’ milk (creamy raw milk slowly cooked and hand kneaded to cheese).