Food & Drinks

How to Chew Coca Leaves

While “chewing” is the popular term for it, the leaves should never actually be munched upon. Instead, they should be placed one-by-one into the cheek, forming a small saliva-generating ball which you just leave there. Because the stems of the leaves can hurt the inside of your cheek, you should remove them first. Some remove the stems by sliding the leaves between their two front teeth, while others use a lick-fold-tear method.

Angostura Lake

Built in 1945 with the cooperation of Mexico, Angostura was the biggest irrigation project yet attempted in Bolivia, and still provides over 75 million cubic meters of water to the region, and is a gorgeous place to take a short boat ride.

Learning to Love Chicha

A slightly-alcoholic drink made from fermented corn, chicha is a sickly-yellow beverage hugely popular in Bolivia, especially in and around Cochabamba. It’s always homemade, prepared in huge earthenware vats, where the corn mixture is left to ferment for several days.

More Delicious (or Worrying) Bolivian Dishes

Eating in Bolivia has been a real test of intestinal fortitude. We’ve had a lot of incredible dishes, but our stomachs are unused to the style of food. Here are three other dishes which we’ve battled through during our time here

Mercado Lanza

If you’re looking for a quick and incredibly cheap lunch in small, cramped quarters, you can’t go wrong at the the gleaming new Mercado Lanza near the Iglesia de San Francisco. With hundreds of stalls serving food and juices, you’ll definitely find something appetizing. Just don’t be squeamish about sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.

Three Bolivian Specialties

Living in Bolivia was an experience in healthy eating. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed as many fresh fruits and vegetables as during our time there. And it’s all so affordable. You can buy a papaya the size of a toddler for less than a dollar. Of course, not every Bolivian specialty is healthy. Here are some of the more hearty dishes we enjoyed

Api Morado – Bolivia’s Colorful Breakfast Drink

One of the most popular Bolivian drinks is api morado, usually referred to as just “api”. Made from purple maize, cinnamon, water and sugar, the beverage is colorful, heavy and delicious. And it makes for a hearty breakfast, especially when accompanied with fritters (buñuelos).

Sucre’s Mirador on Recoleta Hill

The best bird’s-eye view of Bolivia’s capital can be found at the top of the Recoleta hill. The climb is arduous, but worth the effort. At sunset, the “White City” is even more beautiful from above than from street-level. Just head due south from the city center. As long as you’re going uphill, you’re on the right path.

K’alaphurka – A Potosino Specialty

Henry, the guide for our 3-day hike around Sucre, was originally from Potosí. We told him that we had plans to visit his hometown, and he enthusiastically rattled off a number of recommendations. Churches, neighborhoods, shops… “But no matter what”, he said, suddenly turning serious, “make sure to get a bowl of k’alaphurka”.

We were speaking Spanish, and I’d had a few beers. I could have sworn he said Cara Puta. “Really, Henry? You want me to go into a restaurant and order a steaming hot bowl of “Whore’s Face”?!”

Not Man Enough for Pique a lo Macho

Bolivia’s various regions each have their own typical dishes, and one of the most famous in Sucre is the Pique a lo Macho. My stomach groans just thinking about it.

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