The World’s Best Fast Food, Cartagena

By Abi King | South America

Jul 16

Photos of cartagena fruit

Photos of Cartagena

Once upon not all that long ago but still when I was at school, a teacher said that fruit was the best fast food in the world. We oozed scepticism, even at that tender age, probably threw a “yeah right” or a “whatever” in her general direction and moseyed along with the rest of our lives.

Fast forward to the close-set streets of Cartagena, in sticky, colourful Colombia and her words resurfaced after all these years.

In the painted, peeling labyrinth of the Old Town, it takes a few moments to notice the fruit. Amid the treacle sweets and coconut fritters, the belts, the artwork and the handmade signs for mobile phones, Cartagena takes those first impressions, spins them around the dance floor, plies them with champagne and leaves them dizzy and breathless and staring at the stars.

The fruit sellers are quieter – on the whole. Women sit with their backs to the road, their eyes on the uneven pavements and the mix of crammed crowds who filter by.

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The fruit looks resplendent, majestic even beneath the glaze of the tropical sun. Droplets form on the skins of the mangoes, and the coconut shells rustle their hair in the breeze. Fruit on the street looks photoshoot ready, the way you only see in adverts back home.

Here, fruit is how it’s meant to be: bursting with colour, taste and even opportunity as it’s so easy to buy. It’s far from the hard lumps of tastelessness found in Britain’s supermarket shelves.

To be fair, I suppose, that cloudy island is a long, long way from these towering coconut palms. And when the occasion demands, an English apple can still summon up the sweetness to complement a sour bite.

Yet for a heady fruit extravaganza, the tropics are hard to beat. And the streets of Cartagena provide the backdrop to make them shine.

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Disclosure: I travelled to Colombia as a guest of ProExport Colombia but am free to write about whatever I like, as usual, as always.

Where have you had the best fruit?

Katherina July 17, 2012

The best fruit I’ve had was in Cuba – there wasn’t as many choices as you can find in Thailand, for example, for the sweetness of the juice was just remarkable!

    Abi King July 18, 2012

    Ooh, I don’t remember the fruit from Cuba in particular. I remember the plantain and fresh lobster served straight from the sea at the same price as everything else, though. Delicious!

Dalene July 17, 2012

I miss Colombia for this very reason…wonderful photos!

    Abi King July 18, 2012

    Ah, so much to love about Colombia…Thank you!

Mike July 17, 2012

The best fruit I have ever had was in Cuenca Ecuador! A close second was Hawaii!

    Abi King July 18, 2012

    Adding both of those to my travel list…Nothing beats good, fresh fruit you can buy as you walk along the street. Mmmm…

Gerard ~ GQ trippin July 18, 2012

Are those mangoes I see? I’m ADDICTED to mangoes! Looking forward to my South America trip even more now.

    Abi King July 18, 2012

    Yes, I believe they are. You’ll find them almost everywhere…Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Jenna | Follow Ben and Jenna July 19, 2012

People from the tropics can become quite territorial about their fruit. You’ve no idea how many discussions I’ve had on papaya! My Dominican and Cuban friends swear theirs is the sweetest, but I know without a doubt that my ex-home Hawaiian papayas are the best.

    Abi King July 20, 2012

    Ha! That’s funny. I suppose there’s the same situation in Europe with champagne/cava/prosecco…

Daniel McBane July 20, 2012

Pictures of food vendors are generally some of my favorites, but it makes you wonder what the same pictures would look in a country like the US, for example. Would it just be an eye-poppingly colorful picture of the potato chip aisle in a supermarket?

    Abi King July 20, 2012

    Haha. Well, possibly…On the other hand, I’m thinking hot dog stands dripping with ketchup, salted pretzels on an NY corner, Key Lime & conch as the sun sets in Key West…Sock-eyed salmon in Alaska? Man, I need to get back to the US and start taking photos of food!

Margyle July 22, 2012

Beautiful, delicious looking food. My problem is I eat them all and then… uhh… well… it doesn’t do good things to my stomach, if you catch my drift lol

    Abi King July 27, 2012

    Ha, yes! Little and often – as with so many things in life ;)

Natalie T. July 24, 2012

Now I’m hungry! I love mangoes in the summertime, even if they’re hard to cut (it’s hard for me to find the axis and cut around the pit). But I found this great salad at a restaurant that I was inspired to eat: it’s mango and avocado on top of each other. The restaurant used cheese in the recipe and a crunchy chip for texture. I replaced it with cashews and it was delicious! Yum. Great photos. :)

    Abi King July 29, 2012

    Mango and avocado sounds like a great combo – but cheese? Hm…I’m not sure about that. I may try the cashew trick though, cheers!

Steve August 14, 2012

I used to buy a pineapple on my way home from work everyday when I lived in Moshi, Tanzania. I’d cut it up with a penknife and my girlfriend and I would eat it by the side of the swimming pool at the YMCA. Happy days…

Robin McKelvie January 3, 2013

Nice post. Fruit an ideal Jan detox for me before nefarious trip with the British Guild of Travel Writers to Poland.

Wil January 24, 2013

So much better then all the chemical filled crap they feed us here in the States.

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