A missionary fresh on the field orders soup. The waiter brings her soup. She looks at the soup and calls for the waiter to return. “Waiter,” she says, “Look at my soup! There’s a fly in it!” The waiter picks up her spoon, scoops the fly out and tosses it over his shoulder. Same missionary gal a year later orders soup. The waiter brings her soup. She looks at the soup, decides not to bother the waiter, picks up her spoon, scoops the fly out and tosses it over her shoulder. Same missionary, third year on the mission field now, orders soup. The waiter brings her soup. She looks at the soup and calls for the waiter to return. “Waiter,” she says, “Look at my soup! Where is my fly?” – Favorite missionary joke ever.
One of the marks of each region of Bolivia is a traditional plate of food prepared in a certain way and served just so. Most of the foods in the following list come from the Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Potosí regions. Following the list is a little ‘yapa’ (kinda like saying a baker’s dozen) of Bolivian culture.
10. Manjar Blanco – A dessert served in Santa Cruz. In a small dish long, thick strips of salty, white goat cheese (called Mennonite cheese) are accompanied by sweet, crystallized dollops of dulce de leche (a caramel flavored milk based candy).
9. Sopa de Mani – Peanut soup. Served hot with a chunk of steak on the bone in a yellow, peanut cream broth. Sprinkled with shoestring potatoes and a bit of fresh parsley.
8. Pacumutu del Churrasquerria Tunari – Large medallions of steak skewered with red peppers, green peppers, onions, bacon and sausage grilled to perfection. The name of the food is simply ‘pacumutu’. The restaurant that makes it best is Churrasquerria Tunari.
7. Arroz con queso – Rice with cheese. The cheese is white and salty. It gets stringy when melted into the hot rice.
6. Sushi from Brazilian Coffee – My first taste of sushi was right here in Cochabamba at the Japanese restaurant called Brazilian Coffee.
5. Majadito – A Santa Cruz dish of seasoned rice mixed with charque (beef jerky) and topped with a fried egg and a couple strips of fried plantain.
4. Silpancho – A Cochabamba dish of flattened, breaded, chicken-fried steak served over white rice and fried potatoes, topped with a fried egg, finely diced onions, tomatoes and spicy pepper.
3. Chirimoya, frambruesa, mango, achachairu, y muchas otras frutas frescas – Custard apple, raspberries, mango, lychee fruit, and bunches of other fresh fruit.
2. Salteña – A mid morning snack of Cochabamba. A baked shell made of corn flour. Inside chicken or meat, vegetables, a raisin, an olive, a boiled quail egg and broth.
1. K’alaphurka – Stone soup from Potosí. Served as breakfast or a mid morning snack. A volcanic rock which has been heated int he oven is placed at the bottom of the bowl. The soup is made of deep fried pork bits and a spicy creamy corn broth. The soup is poured over the rock and it boils the whole time you are eating it!
The yapa… When you are finished eating you politely say to the others at the table, “Provecho” or, “Buen provecho.” To which the others respond, “Gracias.” The literal translation for this usage of the word ‘provecho’ is: may your food digest well.
You can put a smile on my face by treating me to any of the foods on my list. My mouth is watering just writing about it. Oh, I forgot about Yuca Frita… yummy!
*** Next list: 10 People Who Changed My Life***