No. We don’t sit around the dinner table as a family. We do that for lunch. As I’ve mentioned before, the mid-day meal is the big one for most Colombians. You have your soup, your glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice, your main plate with three or four different starches alongside a little salad and piece of meat, then a tiny dessert.
For dinner, the street vendors offer hot dogs, hamburgers, empanadas, arepas…and our favorite: pizza.
There are pizza ovens all over the place. They’ve got them on carts, on counters, in hole-in-the walls, as well as sit-down restaurants.
In our neighborhood, you can get a slice of pizza for as little as 1500 COP. However, I find that the main flavor tends to be salt. Pay a little bit more in the same neighborhood and the cheese and other toppings come through. However, don’t even dream about tasting the tomato sauce; if you watch the guy making the pizza the sauce part is about one soup ladle painted on in a very thin layer.
Twice a week I usually end up in the Floresta neighborhood. That is where our church is located. Wednesdays I go a little bit early so as to avoid some of the rush hour traffic before prayer meeting. Thursdays I stop by to eat with Joel between my afternoon classes at the school up north and my evening class a few blocks from the church building.
Since the church doesn’t have a refrigerator, it isn’t always easy or worthwhile to try packing a “lunch”. Instead we buy something from the locals. I’m not a big fan of empanadas, and sometimes I want more than a roll and coffee. Sooo, in the past few weeks we’ve pretty much stuck to pizza.
Once, I tried the pizza cart beside the fruit and vegetable store, but the sausage-and-hot-dog pizza they call “carnes” , the Hawaiiana (ham and pineapple), and the chicken-and-mushroom pizzas just don’t tempt me. Instead, we’ve become regulars at Gusta Pizza.
In Spanish, if you like something, you say that it pleases you: “Me gusta”. So, it would be natural to think that they called the place Gusta Pizza because the pizza pleases people. However, last night I talked to one of the men that makes the pizza. He told me that his name is GUSTAvo. Brilliant, no? Or maybe just punny.
Anyway, they whipped up a Mexican pizza. While I was waiting I asked if Mexican was very popular with Colombians. Gustavo said there are three people that like it, and he pointed to himself, to Jose (the other pizza guy) and me.
When they slid the pizza out of the oven and sliced it (half was “Criolla” =meat and corn) the portions went quickly.
Why? Crisp crust, good flavor, and big portions for just 3000 COP.