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Big Fabulous Picnics: Colombian Style!


With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about picnics and barbecues. Ana Maria Aristizabal, a Torontonian and proud Colombian, fills us in on her family’s summer traditions and shares her favourite recipe of the season.

Platanos asados
(Photo credit: My Colombian Recipes)

The Location

Barbecuing while camping is the top choice in Aristizabal’s Colombian family. When they can’t get away for the weekend, they’ll have barbecues in the city — usually in their backyard, or at the homes of family friends.

The Atmosphere

Expect music, delicious food, drinks and a lot of laughter! “We’re very loud, and very friendly,” Ana Maria says. “Usually, the host is frantic, making sure people have enough to eat and drink — and always giving people more, even when they’re full.”

The Company

Ana Maria’s family will gather with friends of theirs at least once a week, sometimes for a potluck, and other times the host will take charge of preparing all the food. There’s no need for formality, she says. “Our gatherings can be spontaneous too. I’ll call up friends and if they’re free, I’ll head over to their place for a barbecue. We can do that three times a week in the summer."

The Feast

Don’t expect to find hotdogs or hamburgers at these gatherings. Ana’s family serves beef, steak or sausages, accompanied by a variety of sides like grilled corn, salted potatoes, vegetables and guacamole.

To drink, Ana usually prepares Refajo, a refreshing Colombian cocktail that is a mix of half-soda and half-beer, served over ice.

Her favourite summer dessert is Platanos Asados con Bocadillo y Queso, a sweet and salty stuffed plantain cooked over a grill. Try it yourself using the recipe below.

Plantanos asados
(Photo credit: My Colombian Recipes)

Platanos Asados con Bocadillo y Queso Recipe


4 ripe plantains
4 slices of guava paste
4 slices of mozzarella cheese


  1. Cut the corners of the plantain husk off and make a lengthwise slit across the husk. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  2. Place plantains on the grill. After a few minutes, when they open up, add a slice of guava paste and mozzarella to each plantain.
  3. When cheese is melted, remove the plantains from grill and enjoy!

Serves: 4

Jacky Habib is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter.


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