Sunday, April 27, 2008

Eating La Paz

From top left to right, as the eye goes (and the same pattern repeated on each line):
Line 1:
a. Saltena (the n is meant to have a little line above it , making it a 'saalt-enya') - the one at the back - a pastry baked with a pork filling (in this case, it comes in numerous types). Eating of which is an art; it needs to be shaken before eating to allow the liquid to dissipate evenly and held like a glass and eaten from the top end. The one in front is a chicken empanada. Flatter and the mixture inside very much like a chicken patty - dry. This is street food, and something that we snacked on all the time. Cost is less than US$1. For both.
b. Seafood soup: spicy and Peruvian in origin. The eater was enthralled.
c. Calamari with spicy rice: crispy Calamari (and lots of it) with a pile of risotto like spiced rice - which seemed to have everything but the kitchen sink chucked in for flavour.
Line 2:
a. Massive Lobster on the same 'everything' rice.
b. Cerviche - marinated raw fish in lemon and herbs - utterly delightful, fresh ingredients - this was king fish, wholesome and tasty.
c. Smoked Trout - which is the beloved fish of this landlocked country coming as it does from one of the big lakes. Served with capers, boiled eggs, chopped onions and a lemon slice. Quite addictive.
Line 3:
a. Scallops: Flash baked with a sauce. Once again the recipient loved the dish and shucked them down in minutes!
b. Humita: Cornbread steamed in the leaf next to it. With a centre of local cheese. I liked the cheese but didn't care much for the bread itself. Also street food, incredibly cheap.
c. Tenderloin in pepper sauce: Decidedly non-Bolivian except for the fact that they love meat and potatoes. At a very fancy restaurant, topped with the very best pepper sauce I have ever tasted, the tenderloin was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth.

The food was excellent, both in quality and quantity and value for money. I ate trout in various forms one of the best being stuffed into baked cannelloni with spinach and mushrooms. They eat a fantastic condiment called Yahua (pronounced Ya-khoo-aa) which is some serious chillies, blended with tomato and a local parsley like herb on a stone mortar and pestle type instrument. It's on the table when you sit down and they eat it with bread and butter or just dolloped onto whatever they are eating. We also ate at a local 'chicharron' place - which serves pork that is deep fried in special herbs and served with large corn kernels and lots of Yahua. I didn't much care for it but everyone around me wiped their plates clean!

The only food I really missed was rice which is replaced by potatoes as the base for everything in Bolivia. Being the place where potatoes originated they take their potatoes seriously and eat 4 or 5 different types (of many hundreds I believe) depending on what the meal is. I didn't take to their potato's either as they use them in a completely different way to what I am used to. But I tried everything - different textures, tastes, spices, methods of cooking. What I really missed was rice and Indian grub. Something I have been studiously making up for since I got back and over the jet-lag.


  1. You've brought back memories of my trips to my in-laws' in Peru. I had no idea the food was so similar in Bolivia. The seafood soup is called Parihuela is my dad in laws fav. Looks wonderful

  2. Anonymous5:30 AM

    everything looks delicious...even to my sad vegetarian eyes.

  3. Anonymous9:02 PM

    Looks lovely..
    are there any vegetarian options available at all for us ghaas poos people ?

  4. I just had dinner but I feel a binge urge coming on - you are evil!!!

  5. Anonymous4:35 AM

    lovely post, pictures and descriptions. I saw the link on Global Voices, and am always interested in foods from around the world.

  6. Anonymous5:04 AM

    WOW what a post. Looks amazing

  7. how cool! makes me want to hop on a flight to Bolivia now :)

  8. I saw your blog linked by Neha over at Global Voices. I am glad that you enjoyed my country, but the best food is in Cochabamba ;)

    Some of best dishes are peanut soup, silpancho and ch'anka de pollo (chicken soup).


  9. Mallika: It was wonderful!

    WA, Chakli & SilentOne: It was delicious. The options for vegetarians are limited but not hard to find. It's just that being non-vegetarian I didn't really look at the veggie options!

    Ro: That's the plan!

    Chennete: Thanks. So am I

    Me: Go!

    Eduardo: Yes many people from cochabamba told me the same thing. I did manage to eat chicharon and the chicken soup - both of which I loved but didn't photograph. I did enjoy your country, very much!

  10. Your massive lobster came out beautiful. The colors look great. My mouth is watering looking at your pictures. What a wonderful foods. thank you for shearing your post.