I can feel the cool, crisp mountain air caressing my nose and cheeks, rosy from the cold temperatures. The air is filled with a mixture of rice and stew cooking in the outdoor kitchen, meats and chorizo sizzling on the grill, and the familiar earthiness that comes with being on a farm. The women are huddled in the kitchen, gossiping over the oxtail stew slowly simmering away and the men are gathered around the grill outside, beers in hand, belting out laughter and cracking jokes. My brother and I are running around the farm among the chickens and goats with all of our cousins, alternating between playing tag and hide and seek while trying to keep warm and work up an appetite for the feast that will eventually ensue.
When I cook oxtail stew, with that familiar aroma taking over my kitchen, I can’t help being transported back to my childhood, on a family ranch in the mountains of Bogota, Colombia. Sitting at a long wooden table, surrounded by endless landscapes of mountains and forests, there are aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, brothers and sisters, passing around plates full of grilled meats, sausages and chorizo, steamed white rice, yuca, potatoes, avocado and tomato salad, and the one dish I always looked forward to the most, my grandmother’s oxtail stew. It’s the perfect combination of warmth, comfort and richness. Together with so much love, it’s like being held in your grandmother’s tender embrace.
Oxtail stew is a staple of traditional Colombian cuisine, a personal family favorite, and above all, my go-to when I’m feeling nostalgic for those favorite summers spent as a child in the mountains surrounded by incredible food and loving family