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Eva Laura Siegel

Sugar cane for all your needs

Like maple syrup in Quebec, cane sugar plays a huge part in the culture of the region that surrounds Cali, the Valle del Cauca. It generates an enormous amount of revenue for the region, and, other than its use as a sweetener and in traditional desserts, is turned into many products including rum and ethanol. All school children in Cali have been taken on fieldtrips to the Cane Sugar Museum, and anyone who has traveled through the countryside has chewed on raw cane, sucking out the sweet juices, cut for them by a farmer with the machete that all farmers from the region carry on their belts. Each year a girl is crowned the national “Reina de la Caña de Azúcar y la Panela”, beauty queen of the sugar cane.

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Though I normally find statements like the one I'm about to make annoying and overblown, in this case I find it entirely appropriate: if you haven't had arepas, you haven't really tried Colombian food.


The land of the plantain

For various reasons, historical (see: United Fruit Company, CIA involvement in Latin America) and practical (hold up during long shipments, ripen after being picked), bananas are one of the most common fruits in the United States and Europe even though they are grown far, far away. Plantains, on the other hand, are rarely seen. Before living in Colombia, my interactions with them were pretty much limited to the sweet plantains that come alongside the moros y cristianos (black beans and rice) served in Cuban restaurants, and as much as I may have enjoyed them, I never gave them too much thought.

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  • Jennifer
    Jennifer says #
    Wow, these look and sound incredible!

La Galeria

La Galeria in Cali is exactly the kind of market I like: friendly produce and herb vendors, unfussy stalls selling fresh juices and rellena (blood sausage made with rice, peas and spices)...



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