I know that many share my love for cuisine of all sorts, but everyone has a different story as to why they enjoy certain foods so much. Mine began with my heritage (or half of it, if you will). My father is from Colombia, and his entire family is still residing in areas of Bogota , Medellin, and Cisneros, Colombia. I visited for the first time when I was eight years old, and not again until I was eighteen. I learned the hard way that I should have stayed more up to date and familiar not only with my family, but with the culture of Colombia. I was hesitant to realize that many local dishes were somewhat odd to the American eye, but I was nonetheless tempted to try what I was afraid of. This is when I first became acquainted with a thick, hearty soup Colombians know as Mondongo.
This is a soup that includes pork, chorizo, and the mostly uncommon tripe (cow stomach/intestines), among other things. The other delectable parts of Mondongo include potatoes, cilantro, and seasonings like cumin (widely used in many Colombian dishes). The traditional way to eat it is with avocado and rice on the side, the first of which you add to the soup as you eat it, and Aji Picante, a red homemade spicy salsa of sorts.
I had enjoyed other Colombian specialties up to this point, but Mondongo was an entirely different meal of its own. Looking upon my first bowl of it, I was taken aback by the spongy nature of the tripe, but I quickly became used to the feeling of it in my mouth once I tasted the broth. This was something I had never experienced before, and I could tell that I was forever hooked. When I visited again a few years later at the age of twenty two, with my older sister in tow, she knew she would have to try it. She loved it, and over the span of that trip I consumed at least one bowl of Mondongo each day, no matter where we were going.
I have to admit that upon my most recent trip to Colombia, I had my first bowl of Mondongo, and I couldn’t bring myself to continue to eat it. I had officially maxed out on the famous soup. We all overdo things at times, and I should have known my affair with Mondongo would come to an end at some point. I know I will be able to have and enjoy it again, but maybe not for a while. Until that time comes, I will continue to try new and unusual Colombian delicacies, hoping that with each, I practice some restraint.