Bogota, Colombia was our entry point into the region of South America. We were prepared for a culture shock, language barriers and most of all, trying out different kinds of food and drink that fuel the local population. During a 3 hour walking tour around Bogota’s Historic Center, we learnt about Colombia’s history, important events that took place and quite a few interesting things about authentic local dishes. One of the food stories really stuck with me and I had to go try it myself – the ‘Rolo Breakfast‘.
The people of Bogota have been indulging in this special kind of breakfast for years. If the legend is to be believed, the Sunday Mass at the famous Primatial Cathedral of Bogota would last almost half a day and most in attendance almost always got hungry half way through the service. They would sneak out of the church from a small side door and run across the road to a local bakery for a quick meal to keep them going.
The Rolo breakfast includes two bread buns, one buttered while the other is plain, a rather watery hot chocolate and a piece of cream cheese. Now, these individual ingredients may seem quite normal on their own but what makes it unique is how it is all eaten. The first thing to do is to break the cream cheese in smaller pieces and drop them in the hot chocolate to melt. That’s right – cheese in a sweet milky beverage, something that doesn’t appear to make sense at first glance.
Once the cheese is in the hot chocolate, you start to eat the bread while drinking the hot chocolate, which is now laced with a cheesy aroma. Depending on how long you leave the cheese in the drink, you could be surprised with a few gooey pieces of cheese to chew on or you leave it to melt for longer so you can enjoy the hot chocolate with a stronger taste of cheese. Judging by how the locals were eating it around me, they prefer the second approach.
When I finally got to try this myself, I wasn’t sold on the texture of the chewy cheese pieces coated in hot chocolate. But by the time I was on my third or fourth piece of cheese, I had converted! It may seem like a basic breakfast (and definitely low on nutritional value) but it was strangely satisfying.
When we left Bogota to explore other parts of the country, we were surprised to learn that this special type of breakfast isn’t eaten anywhere else in Colombia. In fact, the name ‘Rolo Breakfast’ itself comes from the term that’s given to the locals in Bogota, the Rolos. We were lucky enough to have tasted a truly Bogota Breakfast.
Writer: Arranged Travelers
Photographer: Arranged Travelers