December in Colombia means lots of fireworks, partying, kids and adults on vacation, Christmas lights everywhere, and a few other traditions.
Buñuelos are round, deep-fried cheese fritters. They’re akin to a soft, slightly salty doughnut. If a platter is set in front of me, as occurred at Ana’s apartment during a party a few weeks ago, I eat a ridiculous amount of them.
Buñuelos are available in most shops that sell empanadas, so you can get them year round.
Natilla, however, was new to me. According to About.com, Natilla is “similar to dulce de leche, but it is thickened with cornstarch, and made with panela, a dark molasses-like sugar that is a byproduct of sugarcane processing.”
Tasting the batch Ana’s aunt cooked up, I had to admit it lacked flavor. I was later told Colombians don’t eat it straight, but rather slathered on a Buñuelo, which might make it more palatable. I haven’t bothered to give it a second try.
In addition to tasty fried treats, if you’re in Colombia during December, you’ll hear a genre of music not played regularly the rest of the year.
My friends have only described it as music for December, but it has a distinctive sound that sets it apart from the normal soundtrack of salsa, vallanato, and merengue heard on the radio.
I can’t explain the difference, though the music is typically upbeat. I’ve included a sample in the form of the video above so you can get a feel for it.