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People and Culture of the United States and Canada. It may consist of several courses and take an hour or more to consume. Traditionally, it has been followed by a siesta, or nap. Many people believe that the siesta is an adaptation to tropical heat and humidity, but this is not the case. Even today, an ­after-­lunch nap is common-­ place throughout much of temperate northern Europe. In the evening, a lighter meal is ­eaten. Ingredients vary greatly from region to region and also with income and ethnicity. The poor tend to eat what is locally avail-­ able, whereas the affluent can buy a variety of items both costly and of widespread origin. Beef, pork, and poultry are all popu-­ lar, as is a variety of seafood in coastal areas. Maize (corn), beans, squash, potatoes (both “white” and sweet), tomatoes, avocadoes, and hot peppers all were first grown in tropical and subtropical Latin America. Today, they continue to be dietary ­mainstays. Many Old World crops, of course, were introduced by the Spaniards, including a preference for wheat flour. Coffee, beer, or aguardiente (a potent local hard liquor) are often consumed with meals. Colombians rarely drink tea and unlike many Latin Americans, consume very little wine or ­milk. The word culture appears in the title of this chapter, but perhaps misleadingly so. Culture, after all, includes all human activity, including government and politics, economic func-­ tions, and much more. In the following two chapters, you will learn more about the underlying sources of Colombia’s current ­ plight—­its government, political conflicts, and criti-­ cal economic problems. You also will see that a very close link exists between the country’s political system and its economic ­condition.



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