Festival del Frito

Already broken your New Years Resolutions?

Thank God for that, because the annual Festival del Frito has arrived in Cartagena! Prepare yourselves to eat, to sin, to indulge, in this long-awaited food festival; get down with the locals to fill those rumbling tummies and form part of the Cartagenian culture in perhaps one of the most Costeño things you can do – eating fritos.

But wait, what´s a “frito”?

You know all those delicious looking, golden, crispy, pocket-sized little bites you´ve seen being sold on the street? Those are traditional fritos from Cartagena, the little nibbles that power the city at breakfast, lunch, at sundown and in the small hours of the morning. A perfect little fried food that does the trick of filling that “hole” in your stomach at any time of day. The frito doesn’t discriminate; it is loved by all social classes, young and old, men and women.

So why have a festival?

First of all, when did we ever need an excuse to eat delicious food? Fried foods have become part of the cultural heritage of Cartagena, using and showing off all of the local products that grow in the area of the Caribbean coast such as yucca and maize, making them so much more than little golden balls of goodness, but something local and hand-made that supports regional trade, local people, and native products of the department of Bolivar.

Where will it take place?

You can find the festival near the San Felipe Fortress, by the famous statue of the waking boots in the neighborhood Pie de la Popa. Any self-respecting taxi driver will know exactly where to take you and a local taxi from the center should cost around $8.000 pesos.

What should I expect at the festival?

Go with an empty belly, and lots of small change. Your average frito costs somewhere between $1.000 and $3.500 Colombian pesos, so small notes and coins are key.

You can’t leave Cartagena without having tried the “arepa ’e huevo” – a round disc- shaped patty fried with an egg and minced meat inside it. Accompany your fritos with suero, a home-made sour cream, or picante, a hot tomato-based sauce to spice things up a bit. Expect crowds, perhaps a bit of elbowing, and with your food costing you under 50 cents of a dollar, don’t expect shining customer service. We can guarantee, however, that the quality will be top, with so many sellers competing against one another, each one will want to outshine the other, showing off their special techniques or secret family recipes.

This gastronomic festival is also much more than food, as on Friday 26 th January from 7pm we can see the Noche de Candela parade, where 20 folklore dance groups will amaze and entertain you, interpreting the element of fire.

This festival is truly an unmissable event if you want to experience the culture and flavors of the “real” Cartagena. But ¡pilas! – get a move on! – the festival ends on 2nd February at 4pm, so don’t miss out!