It was the typical London weather—grey, cold and rainy—and more than anything I was craving my Colombian food from home. To satisfy my craving I turned to every Millenial’s favorite problem solver, Google. As my friends shopped in Zara at Oxford Street I searched: Colombian restaurant London.
I was given three options but none of the reviews seemed promising. I was upset and losing hope, until I saw an employee wearing a braided bracelet with the colors yellow, blue and red. She was either Colombian, Venezuelan or Ecuadorian. I debated for a few moments whether or not to ask her where to find Latin American food (*cough* Colombian *cough*) then I heard her paisa accent; i.e., she was from the northwest region of Colombia—the same as my family. I pounced immediately.
“Hi, are you Colombian? Could you tell me the best place to get Colombian food?” I said in Spanish. The woman blinked, confused. And for a few disheartening seconds I thought she may not be Colombian or even speak Spanish.
“Come again?” She responded in my parent’s native tongue. I smiled, half relieved and half embarrassed she simply didn’t understand my overexcited state (I tend to speed talk in that state). We talked for a short moment and she told me about a place named Seven Sisters at the Seven Sisters underground station.
Three weeks later and I finally had a chance to go with a friend. The weather was the same—grey, cold and rainy. But this time, I was effervescent. When we arrived right in front of me was a restaurant named Pueblito Paisa Café (I squealed). Its stereo system was playing vallenato, a genre of music from Colombia and all around me were my fellow Colombians talking, laughing and eating. To say I was elated is an understatement. I entered the indoor market and my joy multiplied. There were two bakeries with Colombian goodies, a butcher with Colombian meat cuts & chorizo, a juice bar with Colombian fresh fruit juices, Colombian restaurants and, of course, a Colombian bar. I was in Colombian food paradise and would have remained standing, staring in awe if my friend didn’t bring me back down to Earth.
“Susana, dinner first then everything else,” she told me as she ushered me to one of the two restaurants. It was Pueblito Paisa Café. A waitress sat us down. My friend had a Colombian-styled hot chocolate while I ordered jugo de mora en agua—blackberry juice. Later we ordered the food. She had grilled chicken and I the bandeja paisa, a traditional plate from the state of Antioquia containing, steak, chorizo, pork rind, egg, fried plantains, rice and beans. No worries, I didn’t finish it all. I saved half to scramble together the next morning for breakfast. When we finished dinner, I raced to the bakery and ordered two almojabanas (think sweet, cheese bread) and three pan de yuccas (bread made from the yucca root). After I pulled my friend towards the grocery shop to get arepas (Colombian corn bread and nothing like the US Southern corn bread) and to my delight bocadillos—guava paste—and queso campesino (like queso fresco). I left Seven Sisters with three full bags.
For now this little 5’3’’ Colombian is in her foodie heaven with no plans on returning to Earth.
Susana Pastrana, a public relations major, is concluding her time as an undergraduate at Boston University interning and studying abroad in London. With her big hair, loud voice, and smile you can find her strolling the streets of London and dorking out to its history, literary references and culture. Follow her on Instagram for a glimpse of her adventures.