Boyaca’s Festival de la Feijoa pays tribute to the fruit in its many forms. Chris Erb gets involved…
The humble, unassuming feijoa, little known and often relegated to a lonely corner of the produce section at the grocery store. However, in the small, charming town of Tibasosa in central Boyaca department, the feijoa is king! And, as is often the case in small Colombian towns on a long weekend, they devote a festival to whatever may be the centre of its economy. Hence Tibasosa’s Festival de la Feijoa, which celebrated its 28th edition over the weekend of June 27-29.
The Festival de la Feijoa is, unsurprisingly, all about this little green fruit, but also aims to showcase some of the area’s rich culture. Over three days, the town’s beautiful plaza is filled with vendors selling anything and everything that could possibly be made out of feijoas.
There were feijoa arequipes, jams, cakes, candies, and even a hangover-promising, green feijoa sabajón (a 14% spirit made from fruit or coffee). Unsurprisingly, feijoas of varying sizes could be purchased from stands in the plaza or from various shops around town. Each afternoon, a local chef would make a culinary creation of some sort using, you guessed it, feijoas.
In the centre of the plaza, a stage was set up to showcase local music and dance. It was mostly traditional Andean music, although the audience was treated to a show from the fantastic internationally-renowned dance troupe Otrora Integración Folclórica Colombiana, which performed a number of dances in traditional, colourful costumes from across Colombia. Unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly for a Colombian festival, there was no reinado – so if your dream was to see a “Señora Feijoa”, well, you’re out of luck.
If you’ve never seen – or sampled – a feijoa before, the green fruits are usually no larger than an egg, with a thick edible skin and a guava-like pulp. They don’t have a strong flavour and can be eaten raw, cooked into desserts, or made into a juice. Although, as this festival demonstrates, there’s so much more you can do with them.
They are ideally suited to the chilly but temperate climate of Boyaca and they have two seasons, one in January and another in June (although a woman in Tibasosa with fifty trees guarded by an incredibly angry dog claimed to get three seasons with proper watering and fertilising).
Whether or not you are a feijoa-lover this festival is a must – it’s obviously a chance to be dazzled by all the different things which a feijoa can be made into, but it’s also a chance to experience a traditional, local Colombian celebration. Enjoy your feijoa liqueur or a bottle of warm Poker with the locals, and get a sweet taste of the rich and interesting culture of Boyaca.