Maíz pira -- Popcorn

As almost everyone knows a good movie can be made better with the addition of POPCORN. That delight, which can trace it's roots to the native peoples of the Americas, is more than just a movie snack in Colombia. Let me illustrate

My husband and I were married in the US, and less than 5 days later, we embarked on our extended honeymoon to Colombia. My third day in country found me sitting at the dinner table in his family's home. It was actually my second day in Sogamoso (located in the department of Boyacá). We had done some sightseeing during the day, which had included quite a bit of walking, and as dinner time rolled around I was feeling pretty hungry. I remembered that lunch was the big meal in Colombia, but I had hoped for some delicious lunch leftovers for dinner.

Strike one. My husband cheerfully pointed out that most Colombian families don't believe in giving leftovers to guests, unless they can be reworked into a new meal like CALENTADO (a story for another day).

With this new information, I assumed I would get to try another new big dish my mother-in-law would fix me.

Strike two. My hubby then informed me that NOTHING BIG or TIME CONSUMING to prepare is ever made for dinner -- except on New Years or Christmas Eve.

So, before I struck out completely, I went to the kitchen and asked if I could help make dinner. I was met with a smile and told it was already made. I looked around the room. There were no dirty dishes, no cutting boards, no tell tale signs that food had been prepared. I saw a pot on the stove with what looked like milk and a bowl of popcorn on the counter. I asked, "What's for dinner?"

Avena and maíz pira -- oatmeal and popcorn. Now, when I say oatmeal, I don't mean the thick goop we eat here in the States. Nope, I mean a thickened milk drink with an ever so slight hint of oatmeal flour. And when I say popcorn, I do not mean the fake yellow buttery stuff we get at Cinemark. I mean just popped corn with a little melted butter and salt -- like Mama used to make when I was a kid. And that, my friends, was dinner. Light -- well sort of -- and delicious.

It is also a perfect way to blend two cultures for your movie night.

Cultural note: While most textbooks will teach the phrase PALOMITAS DE MAÍZ for popcorn, most Colombians use MAÍZ PIRA. However, in the Pasto/Nariño region they say CRISPETAS.


Anonymous said…
Yes,Palomitas de maiz, cripetas, maiz pira. they are some of the names we have for popcorn. We also enjoy "alegrias" caramelized popcorn balls. yummy
Anonymous said…
I loved your story! We used to have a small dinner, but nonetheless dinner. Maíz pira is for "onces" or a snack.
My husband didn't have breakfast before he met me, now he doesn't leave the house w/o eating eggs, arepas or tostadas and café. Enjoy Colombian traditions!

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