Chicago food writer Steve Dolinsky may have identified one of the highest protein dishes on earth: Colombia's own version of a "heart attack on a plate" — bandeja paisa.
"Bandeja," says Dolinsky, "is Spanish for 'plate.' 'Paisas' are the people who come from northwestern Colombia. So Bandeja Paisa is the 'People's Plate.' The proletarian name is apt. In Jericó, Colombia, where Dolinsky sampled the dish, workers climb the area's steep mountains each day to harvest coffee beans on hillside plantations. "It's an incredibly steep climb and they work very, very hard. So at midday ... they come into the town for a lunch break."
And what a lunch. The preparation is extensive
The bandeja paisa served at Jericó's El Balcon Restaurante features chorizo, chicharron, steak, egg, fries, beans and rice, with salad and soup and mandarin limes on the side.
"I'm from the midwest," Dolinsky observes. "And I've had giant lumberjack breakfasts before, I've had English breakfasts and Irish breakfasts, but nothing comes even close to a bandeja paisa." He says "Two people could split this meal. I wish they had a half-order, because there's no way I could pile away a full order. I barely got through half of this plate."
After lunch Dolinsky somehow found room for dessert: Postre Jericoano, a seven-layer sweet that takes two weeks to make.
Postre Jericoano is a specialty of Jericó. "They have it at baptisms, first communions, graduations — very special dish. There are only four families in this town that make this. And I'm told that if you go to somebody's special occasion and they don't have this dessert there, you make up some excuse and go to your cousin's or aunt's or niece's, where they do have this dish." Dolinksky found his at Jericó's La Pizzeria De Jose