Thursday, May 8, 2008

Food, glorious food

As I begin my countdown to furlough (5 months), I´ve begun thinking about the questions ya´ll will ask me about Bolivia when I get there. One of them will definetly be about the food. If you think that all Latin American countries eat Mexican style food you are very very wrong! And I´ve recently realized that I probably have experienced more Bolivan food then anyone else on my team as I am the only one that lives with a Bolivian family. So here we go!

Bolivian food is dry! I´ve never had anything with gravy on it. They have all the normal types of meat. Lots of beef, chicken, and pork. Ocasionally, cow heart, duck, or otherwise really foreign meats to me. As it is with most Latin American countries, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It almost always included rice and potatos, meat and veggies, and always fresh homemade soup. There is potato in everything possible. Nearly always in the soup, in the salad, and as a side to your main plate. There is one meal, I can never remember its name, but the beef or chicken is pounded out into a thin circle and then lightly breaded and fried, then served with rice and potato. Another is a vegitarian dish and its an egg or two fried, served over rice with tomato and/or onion. In a dish on the table is a very hot sauce that most bolivians add to their soup and main dish. I was tricked into trying it once, never again! They are also very fond of fried foods. Potatos are either fried to make a kind of french fry or are just boiled. Rice is either served white or it may be mixed with veggies, they don´t use soy sauce. Pasta shows up in the table every so often as well but with varying types of sauces. Salad dressing is oil and vinegar (in most houses). I could go on and on! But I won´t just cause this might be boring to some people. I have no complaints about the food! I will be buying a Bolivian cookbook soon and might bring it home with me for show and tell. But mostly I want it so that I can continue to make some of these dishes when I´m out on my own, given I have the time. Our house cook starts making lunch at 8AM, we eat at 12:30. A lot of normal north american food is available here, for a price. Anything imported costs more then it would in the states. And they don´t exactly have weekly sales here. A jar of Planters dry roasted peanuts costs $5.

Food they like to buy on the street: empanadas (a type of pastry, normally with cheese), chachas (breaded with chicken and stuff in the middle), salteñas (similar and more popular then chachas, with beef and potato), cow heart, and some others. Thre are plenty of places to buy hamburgers, tacos, burritos, pastas, and other fairly normal north american foods. They even have a Burger King, haven´t been there yet, don´t want to.

They have endless types of potato and many more fruits then they have in the states. Some favorites are Ego (not sure of the spelling), tuna (not a fish, but the fruit of the cactus), different types of bananas (I esp like the fried ones, yum!), and many more.

Things I miss from home (hint, hint): bagels, starbucks, dad´s hambugers, speghetti with Prego, Taco Bell, salad with iceburg lettuce and italian dressing, good quality chicken, pancakes with bacon and sausage and syrup, buiscuts and gravy, eggs and toast, flavored oatmeal, frozen pizza, mashed potatos, Arizona flavored teas, stir fry, honey dew melon, and the list goes on.

My lactose intolerance continues to worsen if thats even possible. Thankfully soy milk cost less here then normal milk and I can have that without a problem. ok, there is your food lesson for the time being!

1 comment:

info said...

I'm glad you are acclimatizing to Bolivian food, and it sounds as though you are enjoying it, too.

Regarding the food being 'dry', I think that might be due to the relatively rudimentary nature of many kitchens, tastes of the individual cook, and how that cook was taught-- typically by her mother. (Aren't we all creatures of what we were taught?)

One of my many fond food memories is of saltenas' juices escaping my mouth and running down my chin, and another is the 'sopa de mani' (spelling/bad memory?)--or peanut soup--one of the many oh-so- delicious soups I have enjoyed throughout Bolivia.

For an easy-to-use cookbook try this: "Nuestras Comidas" by Nelly De Jordan. We have another very good cookbook, but unfortunately I can't locate it at the moment.

Regarding the 'western foods' you choose not to eat--I don't blame you. Compared to what one can buy from street and stall vendors, they are very expensive, far less nutritious, and don't taste nearly as good--at least to me.

Enjoy! (not that you need any encouragment from me.)