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Bolivia - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Bolivian Cuisine History Edit

There are many similarities between the Bolivian cuisine and the one from Peru. These neighbor countries have influenced each other for a long period of time. One of the main reasons that determined the likenesses is the fact that they have almost the same relief.

The Bolivian cuisine is characterized by dishes that are appropriate to the climate. A multitude of spices are used and there can also be done a classification based on this criterion. The food in Bolivia can be served picante, medio picante or poco picante. The first one is the name given to the dishes that contain high quantities of condiments. Many types of peppers, as well as aji, are used. The potatoes and meats, along with Trout or trucha, as it is locally named, represent the main source of protein and carbohydrates in the altiplano regions, while in the plains people choose vegetables, freshwater fish and fruits, for these fundamental elements. People have made a goal from preparing consistent foods, in majority, because only these permit living in such an environment.

The tourists are recommended to consume light food at first, in order to accommodate to the elevation. Also, during the first days, people that are new to the Bolivian climate should keep away from alcoholic drinks. Bolivians have many traditional dishes, such as Empanadas, Sajta de pollo and Pique a lo macho, and also have beverages that represent their cuisine. Maté de coca is the name given to the coca leaf tea. Api is another type of Bolivian tea that includes corn, cloves, lemon and cinnamon. Chicha is a maze liqueur that is consumed, along with maté de coca, during the festivals.

The fruit shakes are also popular. The Bolivian wines, although they cannot be compared to the ones made in Argentina or Chile, are famous, but only locally.

Besides the fact that the country displays a very rich cuisine, the major cities also feature international restaurants.

Cuisines of Bolivia Edit

Map of Bolivia

Map of Bolivia- Click to enlarge

Diversity is the word that best describes the Bolivian cuisine. This fact is due to the climate, mainly. The environment determined a certain lifestyle, which further means a certain style of cooking. Foreigners can be surprised by the multitude of dishes. Although the main ingredients are fish, meat and poultry, the Bolivians have used their creativity and they have created unique foods, in taste and in look. Bolivians from the higher regions have separate cooking styles and recipes that may differ from the ones that are specific to the lower regions. The altitude requires a certain diet.

By Geographic Area and Style:

  • Bolivian Altiplano Cuisine
  • Bolivian Lowlands Cuisine

Preparation Methods for Bolivian Cooking Edit

Bolivians mainly use meat in their dishes. Usually, the ingredients determine a certain preparation method. Meat is usually boiled or fried. The cooking techniques used in the Bolivian cuisine are not special, whatsoever. People use the same techniques as the majority of the world. The methods resume to boiling, frying, seasoning, roasting, salting, seasoning and steaming. The foods are not the only ones that are prepared in a certain manner. Also, the beverages, such as the Bolivians coffees, know many preparation methods. The secret of a national cuisine is the creativity and the usage of the local ingredients in various combinations and in certain quantities.

Special Equipment for Bolivian Cooking Edit

The equipment that is used in a Bolivian cuisine does not differ from the usual equipment used in Europe or in the United States of America. For the cakes, Bolivians use trays, foods that require frying are prepared in pans, beverages are prepared and consumed using the usual tools, and so forth. Temperature measurement devices are also used. If it is intended to prepare Bolivian dishes, the ingredients should be added in precise quantities. This determines the need for a food scale. Also, usual tools, such as knives, forks, tablespoons and teaspoons prove to be useful. As spices are used in large amounts, tools for roasting, grinding and spreading these condiments might also be needed. Most Bolivian dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor.

Bolivian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

The majority of the Bolivian festivals are not based on food traditions. However, each festival is a good occasion for the local people to display their traditional dishes. It is presumed that people from other places come to the event, and it is very likely to try the local cuisine.

One of the dishes that is related to a tradition is picana. This food is made from Beef or Veal, prepared with wine and herbs and served along with steamed potatoes. Puchero is usually consumed during the carnival. This is the name given to a soup which contains various types of meats, rice and vegetables. The carnival is Bolivia’s greatest festival and it is organized each year in the main plazas of the big cities. It is not a food oriented event, but it lasts for a week or for 8 days in some cities – plenty of time for the tourists to enjoy the local specialties.

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