Another angry Bolivian

I got another message from a Bolivian woman angry at my comments about Bolivian food. Oh well, honesty just doesn’t jive with some people.
In any case, I understand her points. It’s true that I only spent a few days in Bolivia, and that I probably did not try the most traditional Bolivian dishes (honestly, I can’t remember what I had back then – just that it was not memorable), and I’m sure that cooked by an experience cook some Bolivian dishes would be wonderful. But if a cuisine does take years to learn, then it’s clearly not for me. What has been great about this project is discovering a whole lot of cuisines that are very accessible to a foreign cook.
In any case, here is her comment:


“I hate to disagree with you, Margarita, but Bolivian food is pretty remarkable. There is a wide range of choices of which you can pick from. It is obvious that you have never been there and therefore you don’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. So I suggest, that you first try it from somebody that knows how to cook well and not from yourself. It is like me trying to cook a foreign dish and judge it from my results which will obviously not be accurate to what the dish would actually taste like if I knew how to make it. Bolivian cuisine requires expertise and an amateur has no chance in making a succesful dish. It is a shame that you are using your website to undervalue something as rich as the delicous Bolivian cuisine, and the worst part is that you have no clue of what you are talking about. I can see that you have wasted time on your website and I pity you. ”

12 Comments

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12 Responses to Another angry Bolivian

  1. Jessi

    I must agree with ‘another angry Bolivian’. I am not Bolivian, but I am married to one and as with all cuisines there are dishes that you like and others that you may not. There are a lot of great bolivian dishes, you have obviously not had the right one, specially since you cooked it yourself. Let the professionals do it and then decide.

  2. anna

    u r so rong bout bolivian food. try gettin it cookd by a pro not by an amateur. totalli agree with da others.

  3. Carol Blenda Reyes Avila

    Hi Margarita,
    After many hours of searching the Internet for quality Bolivian cuisine and preparation, I’ve decided that my friends and customers in other countries would enjoy a real understanding of our Bolivian dining habits and culture, visit my blog at http://www.MysteriousBolivia.blogspot.com where with the help of my mom’s cooks, my relatives and good Bolivian friends , we’ll be adding every week Bolivian recipes, interesting articles, etc…. Unfortunately , we as Bolivians are very ,, very picky and complicated, we love our food , our spices and our distinctive flavor. The variety in Bolivia is very rich, from fancy to very simple. If you have any problems with your recipes or do not understand some procedures or preparation , please let me know, I’ll be happy to help , being away from my country for over 7 years helped me to be resourceful about the ingredients and the American Way of preparation.
    Peace.
    C.B.

  4. David Tudela

    Margarita, I must apologize for my compatriots’ defensiveness as far as their so-called «cuisine». I am Bolivian born and raised and honestly don’t care for Bolivian food. It’s a very clumsy, clunky style of cooking that is either too heavily seasoned or so bland that everyone has to drown it in «llajua» (Bolivian hot sauce) to be able to stomach it. Anyone who tells you that «chuño» (a dehydrated, stomped-on, spoiled potato) is delicious has relinquished the right to comment on any food. You probably did have traditional and typical dishes in your short stay (they are available anywhere and everywhere), and your judgment of it is right on. Frankly, it will make no difference if the preparer is a «professional» chef or a cook in a «pension». The problem is that Bolivians are fed this food from day one and not really exposed to other types of cuisine that they can’t imagine anyone not thinking that Bolivian food is the greatest thing in the world. For some reason, they seem to think everything has to be meat served with rice AND potatoes, or rice, potatoes, AND chuno, or potatoes AND homniny, or as many starches as they can combine. (It is mainly these slight variations of meat and starch done to death that constitute the «great variety» they refer to in the cuisine. Or they may drizzle a sauce on top or perhaps add a fried egg to make more alleged variety.) If they do noodles, they manage to burn them. It is a cuisine utterly without grace, and it is no wonder that nearly every other Latin American community with large numbers in the Washington DC area (where I live now) has managed to find fans for its cuisine beyond its diaspora except Bolivian. I’m sure some despondent Bolivians will rush to reply with vitriol that somehow the city is wrong and Bolivians are right about their food, but this is a city with many Peruvian, Salvadorian, Brazilian, Argentine, Thai, Indian, and any other number of ethnic restaurants that is open to new cuisines, and Bolivian just doesn’t cut it. Stick to your gut reaction to Bolivian food. God bless.

  5. Carmen

    Mr. Tudela has a problem accepting that he is Bolivian, but if he would have the experience from good cooks at home or restaurants , he would apreciate good cousine.
    I attended Briitsh Boarding school, US Universities, lived all over the world and had all kinds of foods.
    I learned to cook and belong as a hobby to gourmet Clubs. Bolivian food is not as Mr Tudela was used to eat, there are all kinds of dishes and all very good.
    Tourists, specially backpakers in Bolivia they eat in cheap places where you get what you pay for.
    Try next time private clubs, well known restaurants, and your opinion may change.
    I am not “another angry Bolivian” I point that you are mistaken, and that can be forgiven.
    Mr Tudela that can not be forgiven , we can see where he came from.

  6. Jorge

    Thank you for that wonderful clarification, Carmen.
    If I may add, Mr Tudela, you’re obviously an overtly americanized individual who can’t embrace his roots. I can tell by your overuse of complicated words where a simple one would do.
    You’re very well spoken, but you’re not very well cultured.

  7. Jenny Kim

    Dear Marga,
    I am a Korean who grew up in Bolivia, and I must say I agree with Carmen. I am no cooking expert, but it is clear to me that David has only experienced one style of cooking in Bolivia and thinks that is all there is. I lived 5 years in Lapaz and 8 years in Santa Cruz. I must tell you the cuisine in these two regions of the country are very distinct. And I am sure there is a variety of colors in between these two regions. Granted, the Andean cuisine is very limited by its lack of available food resources, and there are hundreds of variations of potato alone, including some variations which might seem impossible to notice to some, including myself. And by the way, I agree that chuno is not the most delicious food. But I do remember a couple of dishes from Lapaz that I enjoyed very much. Fricase, Chicharron, and Anticucho, and my favorite pastry were the Huminta and the Bunuelo(accompanied by Api). As for desert, Bolivian Arroz con Leche is unquestionably the best I ever had.
    From Santa Cruz, the most memorable were the pastries, including Tamales, Sonsos and Cunapes. I also loved Arroz con Queso, and there is a variety of exotic fruits that are only found in Santa Cruz such as Guapuru and Achachairu.
    It’s been over ten years since I left Bolivia, but what I miss the most is the food.
    I did not spend my entire life in Bolivia, but I was there long enough to experience a wide variety, which I believe to be only a small portion of a much wider variety of cooking. I most certainly would recommend Bolivian food to anyone, because I believe that if only you look in the right place, you will find something that suits your taste.
    As for the origin of Saltenas, Bolivians will be the first to admit they originate from Salta in northern Argentina, as clearly as its name indicates. But Bolivians adopted this recipe and adapted to their local taste, and they taste different from the original version.
    Anyway, I do congratulate your search for food from around the world, but I would like to ask that you keep an open mind, and do not let one (brief) bad experience keep you from further exploring Bolivian cuisine.

  8. Anonymous

    bolivian food is the best u dont understand the language so how do u know what ur ordering lern spanish then go and order

  9. Ric Edwards

    I lived and taught for four years in the Anglo American School in Oruro, Bolivia a number of years ago, and I was well fed delicious foods which I had never had before. I do think that the put-downs encountered here of Bolivian cuisine is a bit harsh. I agree with Jenny Kim about chuno, but I do remember a couple of times in the nearby mining areas of Oruro when chuno was the principle ingredient in a very delicious dish. Sometimes, I think we have developed such educated palets that we do not allow ourselves to enjoy those things which are not high on the connoisseur’s list,.

  10. Anonymous

    another cracker in the soup how sad, you couldn’t find any maccaronni and cheez (yep i don’t even know if this is spelled right since I don’t eat this BS). It’s amazing that you would have such a narrowed mind and think that all Bolivan food is basically the same let alone you cooking it, seriouly!

  11. Senora Alviz

    A typical reaction from a gringo! I am too married to a BOLIVIAN, and come from a Latin background I cook Bolivian food instead of the bland food thatyou probably eat. Put you energy into bothering to know the language and the lifestyle insteadof wasting time moaning about something you know nothing about!

  12. sabrina

    MMM did non- bio genetically engineered ingredients taste nasty to you because you were raised in a place that knows no real food?

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