EATING THE BOLIVIAN WAY

A Bolivian breakfast usually consists of a cornmeal drink called api and an empanada (a pocket of pastry filled with cheese and other ingredients). Many people take a mid-morning break to eat a salteña. Salteñas are a national dish. They are pockets of pastry filled with beef or chicken, peas, potatoes, onions, olives, raisins and an egg.

 Lunch is generally the most important meal of the day. People take long lunch breaks and many try to eat at home with their families. Lunch usually begins with soup, followed by a main course. During the afternoon, people may take a tea break and eat a pastry with their tea. Most families eat a small supper at night.

Salteñas [above] [go to Insert symbol for ñ]

Potatoes are important in Bolivian cooking. About 220 kinds of potatoes grow in Bolivia, and there are more than 200 words for potato in the Aymara language. In rural areas, people preserve potatoes by laying them out in the sun and then stamping on them to remove all of the water. They leave the potatoes to freeze during the night. These preserved potatoes are called chuños and they last for months. Corn and beans are also staples. Sweet popcorn called pasankalla is a favorite treat and people enjoy eating white corn called choclo. Cassava and fried plantains are popular side dishes. Rice and a grain called quinoa are often eaten with meals or added to soups. Bolivians enjoy a wide variety of fruits, including prickly pears and chirimoya (custard apples).

  Did you know?

Before people drink chicha, they sprinkle a few drops onto the ground for the Earth Goddess, Pachamama. This ritual is called cha'lla and is thought to guarantee a good harvest.

Popular Bolivian dishes include pollo escabeche (chicken and pickled vegetables with a pepper sauce), sajta de pollo (chicken cooked with yellow peppers, garlic, cumin, salt, parsley and onion) and chicharrón (fried pork). People who live near a lake may eat trout, dorado, surubí and pejerrey. In the south, where people raise beef cattle, a common dish is ají de lengua (spicy cow's tongue).

 Bolivians love hot and spicy sauces. Llajua, a spicy tomato sauce, is eaten with many dishes. In Cochabamba, people prepare a sauce called soltero or k'allu with onions, tomatoes and cheese. Saisi, chairo paceño, fricasé and fritanga are spicy stews.

Bolivian desserts include cocadas (coconut candies), ice cream, sweet pastries and fritters. Humintas are pastries cooked in corn husks. Many people enjoy drinking herbal teas called matés or chicha (fermented cassava or corn liquor). Bolivians also like to drink beer or a liquor made with white grapes called singani. Singani is drunk alone or as part of different cocktails.
 
 

  Cocadas 

Ingredients

 2.5 cups shredded coconut
1 cup condensed milk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon almond essence

 Preparation

 Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon small amounts of the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet using two teaspoons. Bake at 320° for 25 minutes or until the candies are smooth and golden brown.