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Chris Amirault

Bolivian Food

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I posted a query about Bolivian food over in the New England forum (click) because I discovered two Bolivian restaurants in Providence. It got me to thinkin' that I really have no clue whatsoever about Bolivian food. A search here produced nothing and a google search didn't help much.

Can anyone share insights on Bolivian cuisine?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Actually, there are a few good sites which offer insights into Bolivian cuisine:

Oriana Nomadlife.org

The Bolivian cuisine is definitively one of the best-kept secrets in the world.

The most traditional Bolivian dressing is the so called “Yajua” ...

Anticucho: is a very thin sliced piece of heart of cow...

Chicharron: fried pork pieces, which they usually eat with yucca and potato...

Pique: it is just a mixture of pieces of meet, sausages, French fries, paprika, tomato and onions, all of this with ketchup and mayonnaise on the top....

Charque: charque is a dehydrated meat of Llama...

In general in Bolivia people eat 6 times a day...

scroll down to read about the foods

El Sabor de Bolivia (in Spanish)

Traditional Bolivian Cooking (recipes)


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I'm Bolivian, although I left my country at the tender age of 8. However, the food we ate at home (well, we still eat it sometimes) is mostly Bolivian. Also, when I started going to culinary school, my grandma took an interest in talking to me about food. She's no longer alive, but our conversations remain in my memories.

So, if you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to help. Let me just tell you that typical bolivian cuisine is very regional. It differs greatly from city to city. Like a friend of mine used to say whenever asked about the typical bolivian dish: "It depends where you are, what time of the year, and even what time it is". In fact, some traditional dishes can be only found during festivities. Others, like our local empanada (the salteña) can be purchased every day of the year, but only from 10 in the morning to around noon. It's what we eat before lunch.

I can give you a lot of examples, but that would take too long. Again, if you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to help.


Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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We spent a week in Cochabamba, Bolivia last August and thoroughly enjoyed the food. We had meals in better restaurants, in the home of an attorney and in the country side on a farm. We also partook drinking of Chicha, a fermented corn brew sacred drink of the Incas three separate times. Some of this can be found in a pictorial slide show at...

http://web.mac.com/davydd/iWeb/Site/Cochabamba.html

and

http://web.mac.com/davydd/iWeb/Site/Incallajta.html

I think we got a good taste of what was available in and around Cochabamba, a beautiful city in the Andes Mountains.

Breakfast in the hotel usually consisted of a wide variety of fruits and fruit juices brought in from the Amazon basin. Coffee Americano was a dark thick syrupy expresso that had to be cut with hot water to bring it back to what we think of regular coffee. Bolivians think it strange that I drank it black with cream.

Potatos are served with every meal. We ate at a place called Dombo's for breakfast a few times. First thing to get used to is hash browns are what we think of as french fries and many times were served cold. A good hearty breakfast would be meat, potatoes, fried egg and green peppers. Empanadas and/or saltenas were standard fare for breakfast as well. They contain meat, potato, greens, sauce, onion and in ours usually a hard boiled quail's egg. I thought of them as tiny pasties.

I had roast duck at the Taquena Brewery Restaurant. A typical dish might be meat (chicken or beef) cut in strips, fried potatos, onions, green peppers, tomatos, sauce with rice or pasta. Generally the food was not spicey. I think they called it Machu Pachu.

The food was nothing like what we associate with Mexico or Latin America in restaurants in the United States. I quite liked just about everything I tried.

When we got to Peru, the menus got a bit more exotic. We had Alpaca steaks there and a common item on the menus in Cusco restaurants was guinea pig. I did not have the opportunity to try it.

Drinks were beer and wine. Bolivia has some good breweries in Taquena, Pacena and Huari. The wines were mostly Chilean. The ancient and sacred drink of the Incans is Chicha, a fermented corn brew. We first had this in Pocona, a small village in the mountains, in a Chicha bar. A typical chicha bar would be a large room with a dirt floor and benches along the walls. Chicha is served in a gourd that is passed around. The gourd is filled but before you drink you must spill a little bit on the floor to the Momma Pachu god and then drink the entire gourd full in one gulp. We did the same in private homes on a farm and in a well to do attorney's home. In the case of the attorney's home, yes we spilled on the beautiful marble floors.

Bolivia was a great experience. We were there on a visit to our son and daughter-in-law doing doctorate anthropology studies in a small village so there was nothing tourist structured and we got to meet with the locals. Our son and daughter-in-law both could speak Spanish and our daughter-in-law was also fluent in Quechua, the ancient Incan language used by most. In our hotel, some of the staff could speak English. We got along fine.


Davydd

It is just an Anglicized Welsh spelling for David to celebrate my English/Welsh ancestry. The Welsh have no "v" in their alphabet or it would be spelled Dafydd.

I must warn you. My passion is the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Now blogging: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog

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Corn is used in many ways. They use it as flour for bread making, but they also eat it as is, with some cheese or butter. But typically it's served as something called Huminta, which is somewhat similar to a mexican Tamal. It can eiher be wrapped in the husk and boiled or baked in a pan. It is sometimes seasoned with aji (chiles) and usually stuffed with cheese. They eat this for tea-time (an sometimes breakfast). I like it with a little sugar sprinkled on top and with a cup of coffee.

Cochabamba is a beautiful town. I was born there. The dish Davydd was talking about, with the strips of beef and onions and fried potatoes is calles Pique Macho, and it was created only a couple of decades ago in that town, which is famous for it's culinary delights. Cochabambinos like to eat. a lot.

Salteñas can better be described as soup turnover. The filling is made with collagen, therefore, when cooked, it becomes stew-y. They are served with a spoon, but few use it. The unspoken deal is that whoever makes more of a mess while eating it pays the bill. I must admit that the best salteñas are not in Cochabamba. You'll find better ones in La Paz or Sucre.


Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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Godito, Thank you for correcting me on Pique Macho. The name was really escaping me and going on to Machu Picchu in Peru can further mess up your memory. :laugh: I couldn't find it with a Google search. I had that dish in at least three times. I guess I kind of liked it. :smile:

I don't recall having corn served just as corn in Cochabamba. There was one serving similar to hominy but I don't think it was hominy as we have it here.

Potatoes are in everything and served all the time. I heard various accounts about pototoes. One was there were over 200 varieties and another over 800. Bolivians claimed potatoes but then when we got to Peru we heard the same. So I say the Incans long before there were countries. It seems the countries claim Pisco Sour too including Chile but since the town of Pisco is in Peru I have to give it to them.

BTW, we have a Bolivian grandson born to our USA son and daughter-in-law in Cochabamba. So we will always have a connection to that beautiful city. He was born in the home of the attorney's house I mentioned where they maintained a small apartment that probably would have been a maid's quarters otherwise. They came in from the farm house they were renting near Sipe Sipe and had to walk almost the whole way because of the road blocks last June shutting down all public transportation. They got to Cochabamba just in time. The doctor made a house call on a Saturday night with his date that night who helped with the delivery.


Davydd

It is just an Anglicized Welsh spelling for David to celebrate my English/Welsh ancestry. The Welsh have no "v" in their alphabet or it would be spelled Dafydd.

I must warn you. My passion is the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Now blogging: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog

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Reading this is making me wonder how and to what extent Bolivian food differs from Peruvian. I'm guessing that it's more dependent on region than nation, and that the cuisine is not coterminous with borders (so that Andean food is pretty much Andean food whichever of those countries it's eaten in, whereas the Peruvian coastal and jungle regions have no Bolivian counterparts). ?


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Reading this is making me wonder how and to what extent Bolivian food differs from Peruvian.  I'm guessing that it's more dependent on region than nation, and that the cuisine is not coterminous with borders (so that Andean food is pretty much Andean food whichever of those countries it's eaten in, whereas the Peruvian coastal and jungle regions have no Bolivian counterparts). ?

You're right about, well, pretty much everythin (except that Bolivia does have a jungle region that borders Brasil and Paraguay). But yes, Andean food is Andean food, no matter which way you look at it. Even more, Bolivia was a part of Peru during the colony, so the european influence was the same for both countries.

Also food is mostly regional in most latin american countries. In Bolivia, for instance, you have typical foods from all their major cities (La Paz, Sucre, Santa Cruz, Tarija and Cochabamba), but you can aslo find food that's characteristic to a region (like food from the highlands, the valleys, the jungle, etc)


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Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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I don't recall having corn served just as corn in Cochabamba. There was one serving similar to hominy but I don't think it was hominy as we have it here.

I'm not too familiar with american hominy, and I'm not too familiar with mexican pozole, so I don't quite know if those two are the same. But as I understand it pozole and our mote (that's the name we give it) are the same thing.

Potatoes are in everything and served all the time. I heard various accounts about pototoes. One was there were over 200 varieties and another over 800. Bolivians claimed potatoes but then when we got to Peru we heard the same. So I say the Incans long before there were countries. It seems the countries claim Pisco Sour too including Chile but since the town of Pisco is in Peru I have to give it to them.

Even as a Bolivian I have to give Peru the credit for potatoes. Maybe Bolivians use more of them in food, but it's still peruvian. I can't remember if it was 2 or 3 thousand types of potatoes in Peru, but they have a lot of varieties. Even here in Chile I miss that variety. In Bolivia we use a diferent type of patato for each dish. Here, in a regular market, you can find only 2 or 3 kinds.

As for pisco, the name pisco is peruvian, from the town of pisco. Chile also has a town with that name, but it's only a few decades old. However, grape liquor is common to all the region. I think bolivians were the smart ones as they just gave it a different name (Singani) and are, therefore, absent from the controversy. As for Pisco Sour, it's also unknown how it originated. We'll probably never know and Peruvians and Chileans will keep debating about it.

They came in from the farm house they were renting near Sipe Sipe and had to walk almost the whole way because of the road blocks last June shutting down all public transportation.

I`m glad you will be going to Cochabamba more often. It's one of my favorite places in the world.


Edited by godito (log)

Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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I just had dinner this past week at Bolivian Restaurant here in Providence, and thought I'd report on what I had there to get some feedback. I ordered heavily in the appetizer section because I had my two kids with me and because I was hoping to be able to try a few different things. I also had read that the place had massive main dish servings and didn't want to go home with too many bags of leftovers.

We started with three different empanadas, which were similar only in that they were stuffed pastries that had been fried. The queso was a longer rectangular pastry stuffed with a layer of cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The other two empanadas were savory; the pollo was pretty tasty, but the chargue was fantastic, a mix of dried beef, chopped hard-boiled egg, kalamata olives, and a few other things.

The dried beef was a central component in a dish called masaco that I really liked. Plaintains were mashed into the beef with little else, I think. It reminded me of mofongo but had shreds of been instead of chicharrones.

We also got a mani soup that was very simple: a chicken/peanut base with a piece of chicken, some vegetables, and some potato sticks on top. After asking for a few things that they didn't have on hand, we got the chicharron plate, with unseasoned, deep fried pork ribs, a large potato that had been boiled and then deep fried, and about two cups worth of mote (which was, indeed, similar to the Mexican hominy I've had).

I washed everything down with a chica de main (sp?), which was a wonderful peanut drink with a bit of cinnamon and sugar in it. I felt like it tasted of both roasted and raw peanuts, but I can't be sure about that.

One thing that I didn't expect was to find a bunch of Italian mains and desserts on the menu: parmesana de pollo, tiramisu, and so on. Is there a reason for this that anyone can explain? It's possible that the restaurant's location (in one of several neighborhoods that have been home to Italian-American folks here in Providence) may explain it, but I thought I'd ask!

We'll be back to try a few more things -- and will travel across the street to the other Bolivian place, Rodeo Restaurant -- soon.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've never had chicha de mani, but I'm glad you liked it. The peanut soup you ate can be delicious when well made, as it uses raw peanuts that are cooked and then processed with chicken broth. Plus peanuts in Bolivia are different than the ones you find in the states.

As for the Italian dishes, your guess is as good as mine. However, for some reason, traditional families do it a lot of pasta dishes in Bolivia. Both my grandmothers were famous for their homemade ravioli and gnocci. Neither had Italian heritage.

As for the desserts, I can't recall many that can be considered traditional. We have crepes with dulce de leche, but you can eato those pretty much all over latin america. Maybe some of the fruit that's exotic and regional, but then you wouldn't be able to find them in the states.

And I forgot abour dried beef (charqui or charque... or even with a "k"). The Incas (and the Aymaras before them) learned to air dry beef and we've been eating dishes made with it ever since. In Bolivia you can still find carne seca made with horse meat and also llama meat. Both good.


Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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In response to Gifted's post above, Salsa Llajwa (or Yaqua), I did a write up about it on my blog, it's really delicious!

http://www.saltshaker.net/20060302/llajwa-...d-herb-blogging

Can't explain the Italian thing either - Bolivia isn't like Argentina or Uruguay with the major Italian influence. Sounds like just a decision on the part of the owners to offer something more "familiar".

Your description of the Bolivian empanadas is interesting too, because generally, the Bolivian versions aren't fried - not that it's not possible, but, I've never seen them fried. They're also, unlike the Argentine or Uruguayan or Chilean versions, often served with a spoon, because the filling, classically, is a bit "soupy" in comparison to the others, and it's difficult to eat them by hand. The dough is also quite different, almost more like a savory shortcrust than what I've seen in the other countries. Spicy is often the case too...

http://www.saltshaker.net/20060210/bolivian-spice-fix

http://www.saltshaker.net/20060302/zona-boliviana


Edited by saltshaker (log)

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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We do have a few fried empanadas in Bolivia, although I's sure what Chris says is likely. It's easier to fry them in a restaurant.

As for the empanada that saltshaker describes, that is the famous Salteña. A beef or chicken empanada that is, indeed, soupy and served with a spoon. It's the most popular empanada in Bolivia. However, not the only one we have. In fact, as I stated in a previous post, they can pretty much only be purchased from 10 am to about 1 in the afternoon.


Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

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The pubs that I've been to in Cochabamba usually serve whole kernels of giant boiled corn called choclo. It's pretty much the same size as the corn that you get in a bag of "Cornuts" and was always cold and soggy when I ate it.

An interesting aside... you mentioned the restaurant "Dumbo" that's located on El Prado. There is another restaurant in Cochabamba that used to be called "Bambi" until the Disney lawyers undoubtedly served them with cease and desist paperwork. The restaurant marquee even had a picture of the cartoon deer! To comply, the owners simply flipped the "M" upside down and now the restaurant carries the name "Bawbi."

It cracks me up everytime I see it.

For a good steak, try La Estancia. Make sure you get a side order of arroz con queso and yuca fries. You can have a great meal for less than $10.

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We ate in quite a few restaurants but I only remember Dumbo and the Taquena Brewery Restaurant by name. La Estancia kind of sounds familiar. Other than a few other places on the El Prado we took a cab up the El Prado toward the memorial, across the river, to the right a mile or so to a retail area with a promenade and ate a restaurant there that served good steak. I should have wrote this stuff down in a diary.

What I do remember is that dinners were amazingly inexpensive. Those Dumbo breakfasts generally cost less than $2 for something you would pay $15 in the USA. Complete steak dinners might typically be 30 Bolivianos which worked out to be around $4.


Davydd

It is just an Anglicized Welsh spelling for David to celebrate my English/Welsh ancestry. The Welsh have no "v" in their alphabet or it would be spelled Dafydd.

I must warn you. My passion is the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Now blogging: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog

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