Dating bogotanos

Luckily there is a stand selling beer and water nearby if you need to cool down.A natural backscratcher, estropajo is another Colombian peculiarity found at Paloquemao and not to be missed.

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Every salesperson seems an expert with their produce and will gladly explain, under duress of buying a half-pound of this or that, all the details of the foods they are selling.

It beats your weekly supermarket shopping trip any day. The marketplace is a two-tier maze, but with so much on offer the fun lies in wandering between the stands and picking out the most interesting goods you can find.

More than just a market today, its name is also synonymous with an entire part of the city center, so when heading there be sure to tell your cab driver to drop you off at the mercado.

The market bursts with color, and traders from all across the country man the stalls, selling their produce, including many of the exotic fruits and herbs Colombia has to offer.

One of many indoor markets that supply the capital with food, Paloquemao’s claim to fame isn’t its size, but rather the volume of trade carried out within its walls each day.

From the moment it opens its iron gates in the early hours of the morning until closing time, thousands of Bogotanos flock here to stock up on meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.

“If you just bite a little bit,” she says, “it won’t be that hot.”No Colombian dining table is complete without a bowl of ají sauce, and after selling for more than two decades to Bogotá’s restaurateurs, Doña Eugenia knows her chilies.

Her stand features jalapeños and habaneros – both grown in Colombia – as well as imported Peruvian ají, largely destined for Peruvian eateries.

Despite being one of the most important markets in Colombia, Paloquemao is not necessarily the kind of place most include in a Bogotá city tour.

Maybe it’s the fact that it barely makes a footnote in travel guides and is located in an uninspiring part of the city, but Paloquemao is worth a trip for anyone looking for a glance into the heart of Colombian gastronomic culture.

Bring a big shopping bag and set off on your quest to pick out the most unusual things – but in the meantime, here are our picks for Paloquemao’s top exotic fruit offerings and other essentials. Along with the more ordinary fruits readily available in restaurants and fruit stores – lulo, guanabana, maracuyá – here at Paloquemao, you can find all the weird and wonderful fruits that often don’t exist outside the country, let alone on every Colombian supermarket shelf.

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