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One of the best ways to get to grips with a new place is to eat your way through it. In Bolivia – and especially La Paz – dining like a local means digging in to street food that’s both cheap and delicious. Embark on a cultural culinary journey with the South American country’s ten best dishes.
1. Chicharrón de llama
A cornerstone of Andean cuisine, llamas are heavily relied upon as a healthy alternative to red meat. Across the country, hearty hunks of meat are flavoured with garlic, herbs and spices, fried until crisp and served with either rice or corn.
2. Barbecued trout
Popularised in the 30s by an American fisherman, trout has a special place in the hearts and on the menus of Bolivians. Head to vendors on the shores of Copacabana for the freshest fish straight out of Lake Titicaca.
3. Papas rellenas
Upgrade your traditional meat and potatoes at La Paz’s Mercado Lanza: thick mashed potatoes envelop a moreish amalgam of beef, red pepper and tomato in a rich gravy before being finished in the deep fryer for an irresistible outer texture.
4. Sopa de mani
Light and subtle, this traditional Bolivian spiced soup showcases one of Bolivia’s indigenous ingredients: peanuts. It’s garnished with shoestring fries and parsley to create an original source of comfort food.
A Bolivian take on the classic empanada. The lesser known salteña has a sweeter pastry and juicier content, with locals tilting the baked vessel to one side to spoon out its meaty or vegetable filling without creating a spill.
Something for those with a sweet tooth. This sticky, glazed deep-fried dough is an astonishingly economical way to get your fill, with vendors selling them from just one Bolíviano (around £0.11) each.
This hot sauce holds its own in the great pantheon of global chilli condiments. Native locoto chillies (akin to habaneros) are pulverised manually with tomato, spring onions and quirquiña (a distinctive herb with a freshness similar to coriander) in a grinding stone called a batan. It’s best enjoyed with freshly baked cuñapé bread.
A must-try for those who enjoy bread and melted cheese (read: everyone). What lies beneath its sweet casing is a molten core of the same salty Bolivian cheese found around tables morning, noon and night.
Sold from vendors simply steamed and accompanied by slices of cheese and butter, this is a go-to staple for the circuit of backpackers and locals alike, who are short of cash but not short of a longing for tasty snacks.
10. Exotic fruits
The exciting diversity of local fruits bodes well for foodies on the hunt for new flavours while exploring Bolivia. Combine the tastes of carambola, tumba, achachairú and hibiscus at the many “jugo” (juice) stalls dotted around any market worth its salt.
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