My Colombian Cocina: An Interview with Nohora Smith

“The art of the cuisine, when fully mastered, is the one human capability of which only good things can be said.” Friedrich Durrenmatt

Let’s face it. No matter how hard we try we will never be able to change everyone’s mind about Colombia. There will always be people who find something negative about it. It could be its government, trade policy, stance on Venezuela, etc.; the list can go on. Personally, I’m apathetic to politics. I’ve never really cared for them. But one thing I’ve always taken a great deal of interest in is food. This is one aspect of Colombia that only good things can be said, and you if you don’t believe me just try it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

I believe that eating and drinking are perhaps the most important activities in any social group and will make a big part of who we are, regardless of where we live. A perfect example is Nohora Smith, a Colombian expat residing in the UK and founder of My Colombian Cocina. I was fortunate to be introduced to Nohora by Margarita Echeverry, one of the directors of Redes Colombia. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to interview her for my last post series on Colombia. After all, apart from Colombian music and football, the only other element that furnishes Colombian culture in the UK is food. Sancocho has become popular in mainstream London and to an extent British culture.[1]

20130726-155243.jpgNohora, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and about My Colombian Cocina?

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. My family and I have lived in Canterbury, England for the last eleven years. I am an architect, a homemaker, lover of cooking and of autochthonous fruits from Latin America. Ever since I arrived to the UK I have tried to look for and adapt many of the ingredients to our traditional dishes. My first intention was to help some of my friends find Colombian products and recipes, especially since reading my family recipes in books or the internet is not the same thing as actually trying the recipes with the products that one can find in the UK.


What are some of your earliest memories of Colombia?

I remember Colombia with a scent left impregnated in my memory and in my soul. Colombia is the Caribbean and mountains. Colombia is hot and cold temperatures both in the same region; long days full of light others with lots of rain. From outings to the park or sitting on the couch with a cup of agua de panela (panela water) in your hands. It’s all part of our folklore, and the memories of those who have left it in search of new horizons, but always with the hope of returning and being able to sit in a hammock and enjoy the breeze of flowers and the rustling of birds.

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Where to Stay, Eat, Shop and Sightsee in Bogotá: Your Essential Travel Guide



Bogotá isn’t as chockablock with hotels as some other capitals, but both the number and the quality of accommodations are steadily rising, with some notable additions over the last two years. Splashiest among them is the 1 B.O.G. Hotel, which was included on this year’s Hot List. It’s a sleek, slender tower with 55 rooms and a rooftop pool and lounge in a prime shopping and dining neighborhood (639-9990; doubles from $312). Farther north and less expensive, the relatively new 2 Hotel Cabrera Imperial has 39 beautifully furnished, light-filled rooms (636-0699; doubles from $243). For a much different experience, the 3 Hotel de la Ópera is a sumptuous early-nineteenth-century oasis in the historic center, La Candelaria, which oozes character but feels less comfortable at night than during the day (336-2066; doubles from $172).
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Bravo Bogotá ~ Colombia’s Culinary comeback

Move over, Buenos Aires: South America’s newest culinary darling is Colombia’s comeback capital.

Crime is down, business is booming, and the restaurant scene is so hot that the food world’s biggest names are flying in for a taste.
Frank Bruni follows the buzz.

One of the culinary pioneers of the now-trendy Usaquén neighborhood, Abasto is part charming restaurant, part grocery store that stocks mostly local produce, grains, and meat.

Dinnertime is upon us, stars are all around us, and what’s before us on this blissfully balmy night in Colombia is no mere restaurant. It’s a whirling, twinkling dream, a wonderland of colored lights—on the steadily rotating blades of the decorative windmills that line the street in front of the place; on the gently swaying branches of the trees skirting it; alongside the paths that lattice the parking lot, which is as vast as any amusement park’s. As we shimmy into a spot, I catch my reflection in one of the car’s windows. When do I ever smile this widely?

I was prepped. I was stoked. At least half a dozen globe-trotting friends, savvy diners all, told me that Andrés Carne de Res, this steak house cum fun house about forty minutes (without traffic) from the center of Bogotá, was unlike anywhere they’d ever eaten, and that they couldn’t fathom why it wasn’t known and chattered about the world over. Already I can’t fathom that either.
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