We spent three wonderful weeks in Bolivia: we saw very diverse landscapes with the desert, high mountains, salt desert, colourful lagunas, silver mine, beginning of the rainforest, wonderful lake… Also, we met very nice people during these days. And we visited a part of only two departments (Potosi and La Paz) out of the 9 Bolivia counts (or 10 if you count the Litoral department it lost to Chile in 1884). For sure we have to come back to this country, with more calm, it has so much to offer.

But if there is one thing we will not miss that much, it’s the food. In fact, even the Bolivians told us that the food is better in Peru. Maybe it’s because we were constantly on the Altiplano, where not so many things can grow, that we didn’t see much variety in the food. The typical dish is chicken with rice and potatoes.

After 10 days in the desert, accepting bad food (the worst rice I ever cooked, and some horrible olive jam for example), we’re happy to be back to civilisation and enjoy some correct food. In Uyuni, ourfirst joy was to devour pasta and pizza in a restaurant for tourists… not good for knowing the local food, but we can be forgiven after 10 days in the desert.

But in Uyuni, we also tried some local food: we went to several small restaurants for the locals (2 or 3 times cheaper than the ones for tourists), and that’s where we discovered the Bolivian traditional meal of fried chicken with potatoes and rice.Sometimes, the chicken is replaced by a piece of beef:

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Also, we tried the llama meat, which is very good, quite similar to beef, but without any fat. We were told that the alpaca meat is also without any fat, but we didn’t try yet.

The Pique Macho is a specialty from Cochabamba, composed by beef, sausage, french fries, onions, eggs, peppers, tomatoes. It is slightly spicy but very good:

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The Charquekan is a dish from Oruro. It’s made of dried meat (generally beef or llama) that has been cooked afterwards, with eggs, corn (big white corn!) and of course potatoes.

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As you probably know, potatoes are from the Andean region, that is to say Bolivia and Peru. In Bolivia, there are more than 1200 kinds of potatoes. In La Paz only, there are 400 species. Something very special here is the chuño: it’s a black potato. How did it become like this? Easy, it has been deshydrated. This way, the dry potato can be kept several years, and when you want to eat it, you just put it some time into the water. Here is a small soup with a chuño:

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There are also some stuffed potatoes, that we found in the Lanza market in La Paz, very good:

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Between La Paz and the border with Peru, we discovered some “new” dishes (in fact very similar to the basic meat rice potato): the Sajta (with chicken meat), the Thimpu (with lamb meat), and the Fricasé (with pork). Both of them with chuños and other weird potatoes:

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Another thing originally from the Andean plateau is the quinua cereal. The Incas used to cultivate it along with the potatoes and corn. Until recently, this cereal was considered very badly by local people, and they prefered to plant rice. But as it has become fashion in Europe and USA to eat quinua, the prices have raised, and this cereal has become more popular locally. We ate a wonderful soup of quinoa and also some kind of pancakes of quinoa.

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As for the drinks, we tried the beer Lipeña. It’s called like this because it comes from the Lipez, a region in the South of Potosi department (in fact it’s where you can find all the lagunas). It is special because it is made of quinua instead of malt. We were very excited to try it, but it was disappointing. The beer is very soft, very light, and it is full of foam. The most common beer in Bolivia is the Paceña (which means from La Paz), you can find it everywhere.

We tried another kind of beer, more traditional, the Chicha. It already existed in the times of the Incas. It comes from fermented corn. At the time of the Incas, the corn needed to be chewed so that it could ferment. The Inca (i.e. the emperor) had very beautiful girls selected from all over his empire to do this chewing job for his Chicha. But for the common people, it could be anyone who chewed the corn… I don’t want to imagine whether they still have to chew the corn nowadays for the Chica we drink. Originally, the Chicha was drunk in the shell of a half coconut, and the recipient today still has this shape.

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We tried the local version of the cheap Coke: Coka Quina. It tastes a little like Coca Cola, but with more sugar.

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And speaking of Coca, the thing that you have to drink in Bolivia is the Maté de Coca. It is an infusion of coca leaves. It has a good taste of plants, and it helps you support the altitude.

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In the market of La Paz, you have Cholitas selling the local products. Of course, many potatoes, but also a lot of fruits, from which they can produce very good juices:

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The Cholitas also use to hold the restaurants, in the smaller cities. However, they are generally helped by their daughter. It’s weird for us to see a 10 years old girl serving you instead of playing with her dolls

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And now, for the pleasure of your (male) eyes, here is the kind of posters you can find in the restaurants… (I tell you it’s a wonderful country)

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