It’s been a while since I’ve posted, that’s because I’m pretty bad at this consistent blogging thing. I have a few posts in my mind that I want to do, but haven’t gotten around to writing. Here is a post that I hope you’ll like.
I hadn’t really heard about the whole comfort food concept until I was in college. It really made sense to me, but I never could think of anything that was a comfort food at the time. I mean when I get depressed the last thing I want to do is eat, but then I guess that’s asking a lot of comfort food, to make you feel good no matter what the situation. I do have comfort foods that have certain nostalgic appeal, a lot actually since food is what I missed the most when I went to live in the states. There is one comfort food that I can eat almost anytime and can only bring good things to mind: mazamorra.
The translation for mazamorra would be something like a corn pudding, which, to be honest, sounds kind of gross. It doesn’t even have a pudding consistency (well not the paisa kind that I like). Anyways, Mazamorra is a dish that’s made with corn and also exists in Peru, Paraguay*, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, and Panama in variations. In Peru mazamorra is made with purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon and sweet potato flour. I’ve never tried it, but if their chicha morada is any indication to how good purple corn can taste, then it must be delicious. In Puerto Rico and Costa Rica they do make something like a corn pudding and also in Paraguay, but they use their native “locro” variety of corn. In Argentina it’s also a well-known sweet dish made with corn, milk, and sugar and in Chile this dish is added to seasoned beans. In Colombia there are, as far as I know, two varieties of mazamorra. There is the soup made with corn flour, that’s the one you can find here in Bogotá, and that’s what you will get if you ask for mazamorra, or there is the paisa kind**, my comfort food (there’s also a variation from the coast that’s also sweet, but they add sweet plantains and costeño cheese. yum). What’s so great about mazamorra paisa? Oh, let me tell you, but first a story.
So over the past two weeks that I’ve been so intimate with Aristotle (super fun, yeah), as in writing a paper and such, I sit at my desk with the window open, and usually around noon I hear in the street “mazamorra paisa, rica, calientica con leche y panela” (mazamorra paisa, delicious, warm with milk and unrefined whole cane sugar)***. It takes me out of my trance and then I start an inner dialogue where I wonder if I should have a snack break, but by the time I decide the guy on the motorcycle that is selling the mazamorra is too far, and I can barely hear the megaphone. But one day I finally just made up my mind and ran out and bought some.
Yeah, ok, it’s not that photogenic, but it tastes like my childhood in Manizales, the good parts of course, or that time my grandma visited us in Texas and made it from scratch (swoon). The way to make mazamorra paisa is to cook the corn, after letting it soak for the night, for a few hours until it’s white. Here you add a bit of baking soda. That’s pretty much it, you add some milk and panela (that’s how I like it) some people like it with bocadillo (sweet guava paste), but I don’t like bocadillo (yeah, what a shame, here everything is filled with it). You can store the cooked corn in the fridge and whenever you want some mazamorra you just add the rest. It’s actually considered a drink and when you’re in the paisa region you can opt for it instead of juice. I like it cold and with lots and lots of panela.
Do you have any comfort foods like this? Have you tasted mazamorra, or maybe would like to?
*I have a pet peeve of hearing people call Paraguay pah-rah-guey when it’s really called pah-rah-gwai.
**I really dislike the paisa accent and culture, but the food is the only thing I didn’t renounce to when I renounced my paisa nationality. I have since then adopted the rola (as in Bogotan) nationality and have no traces of my paisa accent, unless talking to my mom. I also have a trace of a Mexican accent which I’m also pretty proud of.
***I wish I’d gotten a recording of it. There’s also a guy that comes by with avocados that has such a distinct voice.