In Colombia, cultural richness is reflected in its diverse cuisine, and one of the sweetest and most traditional treasures this country has to offer is Bocadillo. This delicious sweet is made from guava pulp, sugarcane panela, or refined sugar, and it can be wrapped in bijao leaves, corn husks, or plantain leaves. Its exquisite flavor and deep-rooted presence in Colombian culture make it a genuine pleasure for the senses.
The Charm of Colombian Bocadillo
Colombian Bocadillo is similar to other sweets found in Latin America, such as quince paste and “ate.” However, in Colombia, it is primarily prepared using guava pulp, which gives it its characteristic and delicious taste. It is often combined with cheeses or dulce de leche, creating a harmony of flavors that is simply irresistible.
A Tradition Dating Back Centuries
The tradition of making Bocadillo in Colombia dates back to ancient times. Records of similar preserves being produced in the Santander department can be traced as far back as 1610. However, it was around 1870 that the production of guava jelly and guava desserts began to develop, and in the 1950s, the true industrialization of the famous “Bocadillo Veleño” was witnessed.
The Process of Making Bocadillo
The preparation of Colombian Bocadillo is a process that combines art and patience. Key ingredients, such as guava pulp and sugarcane panela, are cooked over low heat while constantly stirring. This results in a thick and flavorful mass, similar in texture to quince paste.
Varieties of Bocadillo
While the traditional recipe for Colombian Bocadillo is presented in the form of 5x3x2 centimeter blocks, the measurements may vary depending on the manufacturer. Artisanal guava pastes are often wrapped in dried bijao or corn husks and placed in rustic wooden boxes. On the other hand, industrial Bocadillo destined for the domestic or export market are typically wrapped in plastic leaves and packaged in cardboard boxes.
“Bocadillo Veleño”: A Regional Gem
“Bocadillo Veleño” is a regional Colombian variant of this sweet and is considered one of the most prominent. The municipality of Velez, located in the Santander department, is the epicenter of its production. “Bocadillo Veleño” is distinguished by its hard texture and bright red color. Its traditional shape consists of small blocks with two thin bands of light paste made from white guava, flanking a thick central band of red paste containing red guava.
A Cultural and Economic Legacy
“Bocadillo Veleño” and its production have become an integral part of the lives of local communities in municipalities such as Velez, Barbosa, Guavata, Puente Nacional, and more. This agroindustry employs approximately 15,000 families, from fruit harvesting to the production and distribution of the final product. Its economic and cultural importance is undeniable, and guava paste is a symbol of regional identity and pride.
In 2022, “Bocadillo Veleño” achieved a significant milestone by receiving recognition from the European Union as a 100% Colombian product. This came after approximately 5 years of efforts, and guava paste is now included in the list of geographical indications for food and agricultural products, thanks to a trade agreement between Colombia and European countries since 2013.
Colombian Bocadillo is a shining example of how culinary tradition can become a cultural and economic legacy that transcends borders. Its sweet taste and rich history make guava paste a national treasure of Colombia that should be appreciated and celebrated. A true delight for lovers of authentic flavors!