A Bolivian Menu

International Recipes



I hate to say it, but Bolivian food just doesn't inspire me. I spent a few days in Bolivia a few years back, but I found the food so unremarkable as to be completely unmemorable. Peering through recipes online didn't do to help matters. Granted, part of the problem was that I couldn't understand many of the recipes, I'd never before encountered words like chajcho, chanfaina, qoqo, ranga o saice nor ingredients such as chuño, locoto o charque. But ultimately, I just couldn't get into it.

I wanted to make salteñas as an appetizer. Salteñas are Bolivia's version of empanadas, their fillings usually include potatoes, peas and carrots and is often sweetened by sugar, while the shells are sometimes sweetened by sugar or seasoned with red pepper or other spices. But truth be told, I just didn't want to make the dough. Years ago, when I had no other choice, I used to make empanada dough by hand. I hated it. I hate having to make anything that requires a rolling pin, and this in particular. So I really, really, really didn't want to make the shells. I thought of just cheating and using Salteña brand empanada shells from Argentina, but what would the point be? The recipes for the filling made it sound very similar to the empanada fillings found in Salta and other provinces of the Argentine northwest, and we had our fill of them when we visited the region last year. So I gave up. I'm not making them. If I ever go to Bolivia, I'll make sure to eat some and confirm my suspicions.

I did make two different main dishes. One, picante de pollo is a quite traditional Bolivian dish. The other one, pork chops in an orange sauce, just sounded good. None of the Bolivian desserts I found seemed very typical Bolivian - indeed, eating dessert is just not a Bolivian custom, and I decided on cocadas mostly because I really like coconut macaroons and this recipe was really easy.

In all, I feel I've shortchanged Bolivian food and I feel guilty about it, but I also know I just need to move on.


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