One of Bolivia's little-known secrets is its great culinary tradition. Some day the cooking of the Andes may receive the credit it deserves. Corn, potatoes and quinoa, a high-protein grain are native to the Bolivian Andes, and thousands of dishes are based on these and other products.
For a mind-morning snack, nothing beats a salteña, a hearty stew of beef, peas, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives and spicy sauce wrapped in a dough and baked. Served piping hot, it is popular at mind-morning celebrations.
Bolivian soups are second to none. Try a creamy peanut soup (sopa de maní) with chunks of corn, melted cheese and fava beans.
Also worth trying are chairo, a hearty soup made with beef chunks and dehydrated potatoes, fava beans and potatoes; sopa de papa lisa, made from small, yellowish potatoes native to the highlands; and sopa de quinua, made from quinoa grain, wich can also be used in thousands of dishes including granola, bread, stews, casseroles and puddings.
If passing through the Sucre airport, don't miss trying chorizos, pork sausages flavored with green onions, fresh oregano, parsley, nutmeg and garlic. For lunch or dinner be sure to try Fritanga, a pork dish flavored with fresh mint and ground, hot red-pepper sauce that is accompanied by hominy. For an appetizer, or even as a mind dish, pastel de choclo or humintas, made from ground corn, are delicious.
In La Paz, try fricasé, a spicy pork and hominy stew served at hotels and many restaurants (particularly on weekends). If interested in something mild, try the Lake Titicaca salmon trout, or excellent grass-fed filet mignon from the Beni or the highlands, accompanied by one of the 200-odd varieties of potatoes available in Bolivia.
In Santa Cruz or Trinidad, try a fresh hearth of palm salad or a good juicy steak accompanied by rice with melted cheese and black beans. A delicious accompaniment is fried plantain or yucca.
Perhaps the most delicious Bolivian pastry is the Cuñape, made from cheese and manioc floor and served fresh or dehydrated in the tropical Bolivian lowlands. Nothing beats the flavor of Cuñapes right out of the oven.
In terms of fruit, it is hard to equal the variety found in Bolivia. Because of the country's proximity to the equator, in Andean cities you will find a wide selection of valley and tropical fruits. Try chirimoya, a green and black-pocked fruit with a creamy white filling that makes great ice cream or mousse. Also worth trying are tumbo (a sweet-acid fruit), maracuya (passion fruit), granadina, guayaba, orange-colored bananas.
Bolivia also has a thriving beer and wine industry. Beer made here by Germans and their descendants is superb, as attested to by manu Eurpeans and Americans. Good and flavorful beer is sold throughout the country.
Bolivia's wine industry is based in Tarija, Camargo and other southern Bolivian regions. Best are Concepción, Campos de Solana, Kohlberg Fundador y San Pedro Cavergnet. Bolivian wine is produced at altitudes of 1,000 to 1,500 meters and have recently gained international prominence.
Once you've adjust to the altitude, be sure to try singani, a distilled spirit made from grapes. It is often serve as a pisco sour or chuflay, wich is a mixture of 7-up, singani and lemon juice.
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