LAS PERRAS DE MEDELLIN: Colombia’s own hotdog

 

Bogotá, Colombia

VIJAY SHAH via Grandes Medios & VICE en Español

 

Visit a baseball game in the US or a football (soccer) match in the UK and sooner or later you will smell the distinctive aroma of that legendary snack of the stands, the little sizzzling frankfurter in a bun, topped off with a dash of onions, relish or mustard. The hot dog, even if at times suspect in its provenance or state of hygiene, is the battery that charges up millions of sports fans across the northern hemisphere.

But travel down to the city of Medellín, tucked away deep in the tropical humid interior of Colombia, and you might think you are as far away from a hot dog stand as it gets. But even here, thousands of miles away from the football songs and Little League mitts, a local version of the snack rules the roost.

Meet ‘las perras de Medellín’, literally the bitches of Medellín. Widely available on the streets of Colombia’s second-largest city, the perra is a reinvention of the all-American hot dog, replacing the sausage with generous portions of fried bacon accompanied by double melted cream cheese and potatoes, and sometimes fried onions and even whole boiled eggs, in what could be described as a gastronomic upgrade of the cheap chow hot dogs are normally seen as. Interestingly enough, US-style hot dogs can also be found in Colombia, where they are known by a literal Spanish translation of their original name – perro caliente.

Associated with the rural folks (paisos) of Colombia, the perra is prepared rather like the love child of a kebab and a regular old dog by people working at stands who dice up the bacon pieces on a hotplate and also cook up the cheese that accompanies the fast food. There are even junior versions of the perras sold – ‘perritas’ (little bitches). And by bitches, we mean dogs, not annoying people who won’t stop whining.

The perra makers dotted around the busy streets of Medellín take a lot of pride in their snacks, cooking fresh ingredients and carefully arranging the snack piece-by-piece in the same sort of cardboard packaging used for American hot dogs. They are masters of their craft, treating each dog with care and attention, sprinkling some grated cheese on top before adding the final flourishes of sauce – and there are many sauces to choose from. In a subtle nod to its all-American ancestor, some perro vendors will even add sliced frankfurters to the calorific mix that is the perra. Often packed to the rafters with pork and cheese, they have to be eaten with a fork, and are definitely not one for the dieters out there.

Just like pizza, different vendors have their own take on the perra, and at some places, they produce several different versions of the hearty snack, with a menu as long as the snack is wide. The ubiquity and popularity of perras among Paisas has enabled some street vendors to move into opening restaurants serving the snack at industrial levels all night like a Colombian Burger King or MacDonald’s. While virtually unheard of outside Colombia, the perra has become a jewel in the country’s street food scene.

If you speak Spanish, why not check out the video below by Vice which shows a tour of mum-and-pop perra stands and a restaurant in the city.

 

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

La Publicación 💧, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/LaPublicacion

“Las perras de Medellín: Una joya gastronómica del Valle de Aburrá (VÍDEO)” – VICE en Español via Grandes Medios/Grupo Editorial Grandes Medios (18 June 2019) https://grandesmedios.com/perras-de-medellin/

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