Thursday, July 28, 2011

Official Under 20 World Cup Song

The Colombian duo (from Cartagena) Dragón & Caballero have created the official song for the Under 20 World Cup.

Check it out:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's Wonders: Sopa de Patacones

Here is a typical dish that you will find in Risaralda. It is called Fried Green Plantain Soup in English or, in Spanish:

Sopa de Patacones


2 green plantains, made into patacones -- see a former recipe I posted here

1 quart (or a liter) of broth
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic -- mashed or blended in food processor
2 large potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes
1/2 cup green peas (optional and not included in all recipes)
1 chopped carrot (optional and not included in all recipes
1/2 pound of beef (preferably flank steak)
Cilantro (finely chopped) to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Different recipes use different spices including -- oregano, thyme, or bay leaf or a combination of two or three of the above. I recommend trying the soup first without the spices and then adding in what you like and giving it a try.


Cook the meat, peas (if fresh and not frozen), onion and garlic in the broth. Add the carrots and potatoes. Allow the mixture to simmer until the potatoes are soft (add peas if frozen).

When the potatoes are soft, season the soup. It is now ready to serve. Pour into bowls and top with cilantro. Place 2 patacones into the soup propping the patacones on the side of the bowl so that they are only about halfway into the soup.

I found a picture here of the finished product here:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- Los Sabanales

I was preparing to make the connection between Fania, Fuentes and Colombian Salsa, and to finally make sense of all the stuff we have been discussing, when I received a request for this song. It is also by the Corraleros de Majagual. Colombians in their forties (and older) will remember it as a perennial classic in our collective Christmas Music playlist. This genre exhausted its coolness a while ago, so younger Colombians will deny recognizing this song. The truth is: not only do they recognize it, but have danced to it at more than one party, most likely around 3 am when everyone was taking a break from dancing to the faster rhythms.

Los Sabanales by Los Corraleros de Majagual

Monday, July 25, 2011

Myths for Monday -- El Espanto de la Calle del Miadero

In the department of Risaralda, in the city of Pereira, there is a story of a Ghost that forms the basis for today's Myth for Monday. It is called El Espanto de la Calle del Miadero.

According to this Legend, a ghost walks the streets of the Calle (street) called el Miadero also known as the Calle Real in Pereira. This ghost appears to be a long black shadow. With it's long ghostly arms, he beckons you to come closer. As you approach, you will see that he has an unusual face -- a white mask that looks like a skull. As soon as the ghost scares you, he will disappear. So, if you are heading for Pereira, beware.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday's Wonders (On Thursday): Bananos Calados

Today's recipe comes from the department of Quindio. It is a great dessert: Toasted Bananas


8 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons Sugar
8 Bananas


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Mix the first 4 ingredients and poor half of it on the bottom of a sprayed, Pyrex pan.

3. Peel the bananas and cover them with the other half of the sugar mixture -- you may want to use a brush.

4. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the Bananas turn a light brown.

5. Serve them hot with cold milk or ice cream.

I found an alternative recipe for Bananas Calados here:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Día De La Independencia

The 20th of July is a Colombian national holiday in celebration of the first movement for Independence from Spain which began on the 20th of July 1810.

On this day, a group of citizens known as Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the Americas rather than in Spain), went to Don José González Llorente´s home (a Spaniard) on the pretext of borrowing a flower vase for a dinner that was to honor the Royal Commissioner Antonio Villavicencio. This event, without any apparent significance, unleashed a confrontation between the Criollos and the Spanish that ended in the eventual independence of Colombia.

The roots of this conflict are found in the years leading up to the 1810 Flower Vase Incident. The Spanish ruled through local governments called Juntas and Cabildos. In the Juntas that were held in the years prior to 1810, the Criollos were very poorly represented -- 36 Spanish representatives to 9 Criollos. The Criollos were very dissatisfied. They felt that their needs were not well represented and many had secretly begun to discuss creating an independent nation state.

In an act of protest, they had soon formed a secret group or Junta that included several prominent Criollo civil authorities and intellectuals. They began meeting in the homes of the members and then moved their meetings to the Astronomical Observatory, whose director was Francisco José de Caldas.

In the meetings, they devised a plan to provoke a limited and temporary public disturbance or conflict which could then give rise to the overall public feel of discontent with the Royalists of Spain. Their hope was to then take control away from the Spanish.

They chose to stage the event on the 20th of July because it was Market Day (Día del Mercado) and the main Plaza (La Plaza Principal) would be full of common citizens. On that day, a little before noon, Luis de Rubio went to Llorente's store to ask to borrow a flower vase as a decoration for the dinner in honor of Villavicencio. Llorente denied his request explaining that he had let others borrow the vase and they had done damage to the vase and it was losing its value as a result.

At that very moment, Francisco José de Caldas "happened" by in the company of Antonio Morales. They greeted Llorente and then de Rubio began explaining that Llorente wouldn't let him borrow the vase and Morales began yelling toward the people at the square that Llorente was using bad language in referring to Villavicencio and other Criollos. Something that Llorente categorically denied. Meanwhile, the other members of the group began to disperse through the crowded Marketplace yelling things like: "They are insulting the Americans!" "We want our own Junta!" "Down with the government!" "Let the Bonapartes die!" etc. The people in the market began to become enraged. Indians, Mestizos, Criollos, rich and poor began to throw rocks and break windows. The Viceroy, the military, and the Spanish began to worry. The Criollos declared a new government "la Junta de Gobierno" which was to replace the Viceroy.

This was just the beginning -- Colombia's first step toward independence. There were many additional protests, considerable violence, and a war before Colombia would become independent.

While in Bogotá, I recommend that you visit the Museum of the Flower Vase or the House of the 20th of July. Take pictures with your kids and teach them the history of Colombian Independence. It is located on the North/East corner of the Plaza de Bolívar.

Below you will find the information about the museum.

20th of July Museum or the Home of the Flower Vase (Museo el 20 de Julio o Casa del Florero)

Open: Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Address: Calle 11 No.6-94, Bogotá
Telephone: 3344150, 3360349

Tours are always available in Spanish. However, I believe you can schedule a tour in English or perhaps other languages prior to your visit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- Los Corraleros de Majagual

Let's continue with the story of Antonio Fuentes and his Fuentes Music Label. In 1954, Antonio moved his label to Medellín. This was a time when many costeños were moving to cities inland carrying their music with them. It is said that at that time in Bogotá the Catholic church questioned the new fashion and trend of respectable people dancing like blacks. Yet, by the 1960s, Fuentes had become the most important music label in Colombia. Twice a year the label released -- and still does -- its Cañonazos Bailables (Cannon Blast or Explosive Dance Hits), a collection of the best of Musica Costeña of the previous six months which sold like hot cakes throughout Colombia.

Now, Musica Costeña was much more than just the well known cumbia. It also included gaitas, porros, merecumbé, and vallenato. Fuentes created a studio-based, all -star band: Los Corraleros de Majagual who played all the genres. The Corraleros included some of the most well known conteño artists of the time, Lizandro Meza, Alfredo Gutierrez, Eliseo Herrera, and Calixto Ochoa. Both the name of the band and the individual artists mentioned remain household names in Colombia to date. They were the musical pioneers that propelled the Costeño rhythms, and even Salsa music, as we will see, to unprecedented levels of popularity.

So here they are -- Los Corraleros de Majagual singing FESTIVAL EN GUARARE.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Myths for Monday -- La Rodillona

In Antioquia, and the Eje Cafetero (the Coffee Growing Region) Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio (today's department) there is a myth about an old woman with big knees. Here it is:

La Rodillona (The Woman with Big Knees)

In this area lives a old, wrinkled woman. She has a long, hooked nose, grey hair, and bright, red eyes. Her most recognizable feature are her very large knees. Sometimes, she can be seen on the side of the road holding her head in her lap.

She walks the country roads looking to scare people, particularly lovers. It is said that her laugh is terrifying and devilish.

When she is not out scaring people, she helps them lose their way on dark nights.

Your only protection against the Rodillona is to have a screaming baby -- apparently this is the only thing more scary than she is. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Colombia Hosts Mundial Sub-20

The Under 20 World Cup is being hosted by COLOMBIA from July 29-August 20.

Colombia is in group A and will be playing the initial rounds against France, Mali, and Korea. If you are in Colombia, you can catch some of the games. Team Colombia will be playing in Bogotá on July 30th at El Campín against France. They play again on August 2nd against Mali. Their final match in the group stage of the tournament will be on August 8th against Korea.

Other matches are being held in Medellín, Armenia, Cali, Pereira, Manizales, Cartagena and Barranquilla. FYI, the USA did not qualify. But, here is a link to the other games:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesdays Wonders: Tacaho

Here is a recipe that is common not only in Putumayo but throughout the Amazon.



5 Green Plantains, boiled for 20 minutes and then mashed
Salt to taste.
1 Tablespoon lard
1/4 pound chicharrón (pork skin) in small pieces, if unavailable use bacon crumbles or ham chunks -- all precooked
1-2 Tablespoons finely diced onion


Mix all ingredients together. Then, make it into balls from golf to baseball size. Some people eat the balls this way. Other recipes suggest that you fry them in oil or bake them in the oven.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- Discos Fuentes

I think we have established quite well that Fania Records greatly influenced the development and recognition of Salsa music as a genre. But, how does all this connect with Colombia? Well, that's our next topic. Bear with me because we are going to go back in time again as we search for the intersection of Salsa Music with Colombian music.

This story begins in la Costa, the Colombian Caribbean coastal area, where the historic cities of Santa Marta, Barranquilla, and Cartagena are located. From these port cities, the slave trade spread the African musical influence throughout the region. Here in the Caribbean Region of Colombia, African music continued to evolve, mix, and change until it eventually spun out cumbia and vallenato among other rhythms.

It was in Cartagena that Antonio Fuentes was born to his wealthy parents in 1907. In 1920, Antonio was sent to the United States to finish High School. Apparently, during a break from his studies, Antonio visited Philadelphia's RCA studios. There he saw music being recorded and pressed to cylinders and the original 78 rpm vinyl discs.

Antonio was so impressed and inspired by what he saw that upon his return to Cartagena, he established a radio station, Emisora Fuentes, in 1932. Two years later, in 1934, he founded the iconic Discos Fuentes record label. Colombians old enough to remember vinyl records will remember the traditional yellow label. Colombians not old enough, just ask your parents or grandparents, or look around the room where the equipo de sonido is kept, you will find one.

Anyway, with his record label and radio station, Antonio Fuentes began introducing his growing audience to costal rural traditional rhythms such as mapalé and porro. This is remarkable because Colombian musical mainstream up to that point had favored rhythms that had a more European pedigree, namely bambucos and pasillos. These European based rhythms were also the music of the white elites who ruled the country from the cold altiplanos of the interior. Thus, Antonio Fuentes' station and label, ushered the beginning of the Costeño music invasion that would overtake the entire country of Colombia.

Let's pause here to sample a Mapalé. This is perhaps the fastest of Colombian folkloric dances, which is a very important fact in our story, as we shall see. . . This one is performed by street dancers in Cartagena.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Myths for Monday -- The Churumbelo

The Churumbelo area is found near Mocoa, in the department of Putumayo -- today's department. In the Churumbelo area are many waterfalls. On the highest part of one of the falls, a family from the Inga tribe left inscriptions on the rocks. The Churumbelo is legendary for the people of Mocoa. This legend gives us today's Myth for Monday.

La Leyenda Churumbelo -- The Churumbelo Legend

The legend tells of a water fall that cascades into a lagoon. At the bottom of the lagoon one can see a doll the size of a child made of solid gold. Many people have gone looking for the Chumubelo gold, but the spirit that lives there -- the god of the mountain -- makes the treasure hunters become lost or entangled in the jungle. In this way, he can't prevent them from ever being able to find the lagoon with the golden treasure.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Orden de Boyacá -- Highest Colombian Honor

The first military decoration in Colombia was created in 1819 and given to those who stood out participated in the Battle of Boyacá. This award was then forgotten for a century. Then in 1919, the government of Marco Fidel Suarez reestablished the award as a military decoration.

In 1922, a decree established that the "Cruz de Boyacá" (Cross of Boyacá) could be awarded not only to military leaders, but also to foreign dignitaries.

In 1930, Decree #1247, converted the Cruz de Boyacá into the "Orden de Boyacá" (Order of Boyacá). This new Orden de Boyacá could be awarded to not only the military, but also to civilians. There are several classes in the order, but in order to win the award in any class the person must have offered outstanding service to Colombia.

This week it was announced that a WOMAN -- Yvonee Nicholls -- will be receiving the award at the ceremony in August. You can read about her here:

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Wednesday's Wonders: Papas Chorreadas -- Smothered Potatoes

PAPAS CHORREADAS -- Smothered Potatoes


12 small lightly salted boiled potatoes (with or without skin)
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup diced tomatoes
½ Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon salt (this can be optional)
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon flour dissolved in the milk
1 teaspoon chicken broth granules (I use Herb Ox) dissolved in the milk


1. Fry the onion in the butter and oil.
2. When it begins to brown add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
3. Cook for 5 minutes
4. Add flour milk mixture and allow to thicken.
5. Place the sauce over the potatoes and serve.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- El Día de mi Suerte

Last week we discussed Hector Lavoe and his contribution to the world of Salsa. Before moving on, here is one more Lavoe song that should be a part of anyone's Salsa collection: El Día de mi Suerte -- My Lucky Day. The lyrics tell the story of a boy for whom nothing ever goes right. His mother dies leaving him alone with his father, then his father dies, he needs to work to eat, he grows up and finds himself totally alone. In spite of all of his problems, he maintains the belief that his luck will change, but Cuando Será (When will it happen)

The chorus states:

Pronto llegará el día de mi suerte
Sé que antes de mi muerte
Seguro que mi suerte cambiará.

Soon my lucky day will come,
Before I die, I am sure
That my luck will change.


Monday, July 04, 2011

Myths for Monday: Man's Arrival to Earth

The Indigenous people known as the Barí (also known as the Motilones) live on the boarder between Colombia and Venezuela on the Catatumbo river in the Department of Norte Santander. There are just over 3,000 members of the tribe. For nearly 400 years, they managed to resist colonization. Then in the 20th century, oil companies began to drill for petroleum on their lands. As a result, roads were built into the area and people began to move into the region. The reaction of the indigenous peoples was violent and there were many violent confrontations up through the 1960's. In an attempt to help pacify the Indians, missionaries in the area intensified their work and eventually the violence subsided.

Today's myth comes to us from the Barí -- and you science fiction fans will love this one.

Sent From Another Planet

The ancestors say that the Barí originally inhabited another planet. Unfortunately, they were not good stewards of that planet. They destroyed it through deforestation and other unsustainable practices. God, upon seeing this, was worried for his children. He began to look for another place for his children to dwell.

After observing many planets, he found one very special one. It was 3/4ths part water, and the land was covered with rich vegetation.

Happy with his find, he ordered all of his children to cut their hair, which was very long. Using the hair, he made a long braid. The braid was so long that it reached from one planet to the other. The end of the braid on the Earth side was on top of the Bobalí hill (in Convención, Norte de Santander). It was there that the first interplanetary travelers arrived.