My friends in La Paz often ask what my favorite Bolivian food is. I’ve often found this a tricky question, since as a vegetarian at group meals I often confront a plate full of nothing but potatoes and rice. But when I get the chance to choose, there are a number of Bolivian foods that I absolutely love! In addition to quinoa and delicious fruits, here are a few of my favorites:
Salteñas–A dough pocket filled with tasty stewed meat or vegetables, popular on the streets of La Paz. (Vegetarians, check out El Hornito any day at mid-morning or noon, or Paceña la Salteña on weekends.) I’ve got to learn to make these! They usually aren’t too spicy on their own, but come served with locoto hot pepper slices as a garnish to kick things up a bit. Be careful not to crush it and dribble the hot juice on your hand!
Api–A beverage made from ground purple corn with cinnamon, sugar, and lime, served piping hot. Often served with buñuelos (fried dough).
Cuñapés–These little buns are made from yuca (cassava) starch and country cheese. Extra tasty when fresh from the oven!
Llajwa–This spicy salsa is a delicious accompaniment to Bolivian meals. It has a unique flavor from local herbs quirquiña and huacatay.
Plato paceño–The typical dish from La Paz is traditionally meatless, and very simple: a plate with potato, fava beans (still in the pod, which you remove along with the skins of the beans, if desired), large kernel Andean corn, fried cheese, and llajwa. Eaten with your fingers among friends, few things could be better!