Stefanie Vigil, Director of Community Health
Trying new foods has always been fun for me. Adding traveling and searching for a tasty place to dine makes it even more exciting! My husband and I recently traveled to Colombia for several weeks to complete the adoption of our son. While we were there, many emotions, deadlines, appointments, and adventures surrounded our experience, but one thing that seemed to stop us all in our tracks and calm our hearts and minds was sharing a meal together. The dichotomy of tranquility and excitement that ensued from trying something new or having our son explain what we were eating was such a lovely way to pass the time. It was also the catalyst to ensure Colombian cuisine would always be on the menu in our now multicultural Albuquerque home.
The quest to recreate Colombian dishes became a new adventure. Upon returning to the 505, I quickly began drawing on inspiration from local eateries like Ajiaco and Guava Tree to provide our little guy a sense of home while drinking his jugo de maracuya (passion fruit juice). And it provided his mama a new challenge: finding authentic recipes and groceries for arepas (cornmeal patties), frijoles colombianos (Colombian-style beans), and empanadas (baked or fried pastry filled with sweet or savory variations), to name a few. I was directed to Casa Blanca Market, where I found some authentic Colombian food items.
Cooking with my son and seeing his eyes light up after the first taste of homemade arepas, obleas con arequipe (wafers with carmelized milk), aguapanela (sugar cane water), gelatina (gelatin desert), and limón de coco (coconut lime juice) is simply priceless! And to hear him say “¡Es perfecto!” fills my heart with joy (and makes me want to give myself a high-five). In addition to eateries, I am constantly searching to find good Colombian coffee in town (there was only so much we could fit in our suitcases – and we even bought another bag in Colombia to bring back goodies). Coffee shops like Villa Myriam and The Brew Coffee Bar have been lifesavers in fulfilling our Colombian coffee craving.
I am sure there are more places we still need to visit, but after six months I think we are doing pretty well. Learning and exploring, cooking Colombian foods, and of course, finding the best Colombian coffee in the 505 has also been a fun adventure for this new family of three. Expanding my cooking capabilities, asking questions about where we can find Colombian food and groceries, and reinventing our mundane menu keeps our Burqueño-Colombian home a happy, busy, and full one! And believe me, our son has big plans for the kitchen during the holidays!