I always come back from Bolivia a little heavier than I arrived. Carbs and Meat are popular in this cold, but sunny land. The first thing on my mind is always salteñas… a wonderful little pasty filled with spicy chicken stew, boiled egg and an olive (although there are meat and veg variations this one is my fave).
They are often eaten for breakfast and will sell out by midday at the good places (for instance Salteñas Potisiñas in Achumani, La Paz). They are best eaten hot, and slowly, so you dont drip the juice everywhere. Juice on the plate is a sign of a novice.
At midday, I often snack on a Huminta – which comes in a traingular banana leaf package. Humintas are spongy sweetcorn cakes with cheese in the middle. A little like eating steamed corn bread. I think the Colombians call them Tamales. I dont have a picture of the banana leaf wrapped ones, but here is a batch my auntie made at home so you can get an idea of the texture… Another excellent snack is Pasancalla – a cross between popcorn and sugar puffs – the chocolate coated variety is especially dangerous.
For lunch the dish Fricassee would do nicely, its a spicy stew with pork and chicken, large white corn kernels (like big white sweetcorn) called choclo and dehydrated black potato called chuño.
Chicken is very popular in Bolivia, whether in a soup (Sopa) or on the rotisserie with lemon and herb. Both these dishes below were under GBP2.50. VERY CHEAP!
The only place I would order fish is around Lake Titicaca, where the trout (Trucha) is the only fish caught fresh from the Lake and its REALLY delicious (see the main image above). This dish cost GBP4.00 at Yumani on Isla del Sol.
I found a new delicacy this time round in the form of quinoa and trout sushi at the Thai Palace Copacabana. I wasn’t sure it was going to taste like sushi, since it was not rice, but quinoa. When it came I was delightfully surprised to find it tasted exactly like sushi! A well thought out and put together combination!
Another popular beef dish which I tried this time round was Charque (or Ch’arki)- a dried salted shredded beef dish which comes with diced tomato and onion, which to be fair it needed since it was dry on its own! This was served with Tunta (dehydrated white potato), a boiled egg and Platano (sweet plantain).
Something I miss dearly is Api Morado… a thick purple corn drink flavoured with sugar, cinnamon and possibly cloves and lemon zest? Its something you have for breakfast, but I could have it any time of the day in a cold climate. My partner recently tried it and said it tasted like drinking a McDonald’s apple pie! This is a great description and hits the nail on the head.
Coca Mate is also a wonderful Bolivian infusion of coca leaves (traditionally chewed to relieve hunger, give energy and alertness).
Another popular drink in Bolivia is Fernet & coke, although I think it may be an Argentinian drink. Its herbal and could be compared to Jeigermeister. At first it doesn’t taste all that good, but after a few glasses it starts to taste better. After a night of drinking Fernet, I wake up feeling good, rather than hung over!
Finally, a great Bolivian cocktail is a Chuflay – sorry I don’t have any pictures, I downed the drinks before even considering taking a picture! Chuflay is a mixture of the alcoholic drink Singani (which tastes a little like rum) and mixed with lemonade and lime.