Good morning and good new week! I am very eager to cover today’s topic: the 5 Bolivian dishes that take me to Bolivia, and tell you about Andrea’s family, how beautiful her country is and the delicious food. Last time I told you about my family, a part of it, and my 5 homemade most beloved recipes, which remind me of moments with my parents, my sister and my maternal grandparents. Today, however, we will travel across the Atlantic Ocean, visit La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Let’s go!
THE 5 BOLIVIAN DISHES THAT TAKE ME TO BOLIVIA
Baked humintas. A dish that has literally conquered me this year, I know I had tried it in the past but this time I fell in love and it was indeed the first of the 5 Bolivian dishes that marked our vacation. We arrived in Bolivia for Christmas holidays on a Friday morning, after a very tiring trip. This year we met in Santa Cruz de la Sierra with Andrea’s whole family and stayed until the new year. The plan was to have breakfast together when we all arrived: a great idea! They came to pick us up at the airport and we arrived at Tania’s house, Andrea’s older sister. Tania was the first person I met in the family, almost four years ago, and I love her in a special way because since the very first minute we met, she treated me like I was her sister. I have to be honest and say that all Andrea’s relatives have always treated me as if I was already part of the family since they met me, and it is really the best thing that can happen to you with a partner. We arrived at Tania’s house and the welcome could not be better, the whole family was there: Ximena, Manuel and Carito from La Paz; Tania and Benjamin; Sebas, Fu, Olivia and Martina from the United States, and a table full of the best Bolivian gastronomic delights. The beloved humintas among others. A sweet white corn dough – that is white corn, cheese, anise and cinnamon, cooked inside the leaves of the corn itself.
Llajua. Its original name in Quechua is llajwa and it is a spicy tomato sauce made with a type of hot pepper called locoto. It is spectacular with grilled meat. In Bolivia, barbecue is something very common and very loved, especially in cities like Santa Cruz where the weather invites you to spend time outside. My first barbecue this year was just the first day we arrived. Manuel, Andrea’s dad, prepared a delicious barbecue with which we started the holidays in the best way. You already know how much I like meat, even more if grilled, and I love spicy food … Imagine the situation: from the cold of Madrid to 30 degrees in Santa Cruz, a barbecue in the condominium pool, cold beer, talks and finally someone who took out the famous llajua. I could repeat that meal every day without ever getting tired.
Christmas Picana. Picana is a soup based on different types of meat, vegetables and much, much wine. No kidding, I’ve never seen anything cooked with so much wine. Is incredible. Its origin is Creole, from the area of La Paz, just where Ximena, Andrea’s mother, is from. In La Paz it is never too hot, so although Christmas is in summer for them, it is not so strange to eat a dish with so much strength. What you don’t expect is to eat it with more than 30 degrees and high level of humidity! But the best thing about the traditions is that they are maintained even if the external conditions change, and for this reason on Christmas Eve had dinner with Ximena’s whole family. We were about forty people, and many were missing !! Ximena and her brothers and sisters prepare each year, each one, their picana, in a giant pot and at dinner time this is all that you eat: his picana, her picana, the different versions are tested and you can even mix different picanas. You use a little bit of this one that is thicker and you add a little bit of this one because it is more spicy. Finally brothers, sisters and family members judge the meal until each one declares their favorite picana. It has been an unforgettable experience that I want to repeat. Already the fact of celebrating Christmas in summer seemed like a movie to me, then being part of a family dinner of forty people and people were still missing … And how kind and beautiful people they are! I didn’t know many of them, and each one tried their best to make me feel part of the family, as I was so far from mine, they entertained me, included me in all the talks, and even gave me food in secret! Beautiful human beings that I am very happy to call family. Returning to the picana, the preparation is not simple at all: chicken meat, lamb, pork and beef, corn, hot pepper, other vegetables (each has its own version), several bottles of red wine and many hours on fire.
Baked pork. Andrea’s birthday is December 26, poor girl. Of course, nobody is around to celebrate. But the good thing about living away from home and returning when you can, is that the family will always want to please you and fulfill your wishes. Knowing Andrea, you can imagine that what she wanted the most was to be together, feel the love of her beloved ones and enjoy a delicious meal. For her birthday lunch she wanted Ximena’s best dish: roasted pork leg. Similar to the Segovian plate, which I adore, Xime’s roasted pig is something of an even higher level, very juicy inside, with its crispy leather on the outside, it is a delight of the palate. Clearly I took advantage of this situation also to eat llajua again, I could not lose it, it gave that spicy touch as icing on the cake. We finished lunch with cakes and the delicious cookies made by Ernesto.
Salteña. Salteña “potosina” in my heart, wins the first place of the 5 Bolivian dishes that take me to Bolivia. I first heard about this type of empanada at the beginning of my relationship with Andrea, in summer 2016. She had to go on a picnic with her colleagues and coworkers and was going to bring them salteñas and explained the ritual of this meal . But first, I better explain what it is. It is a semi-sweet dough pie stuffed with meat or chicken, vegetables, legumes, olives and eggs, and the cooking stew itself. This makes a ritual necessary: since the filling has liquid stew, you have to bite a tip of the pie and drink some stew, before continuing to eat the edge and the filling. You drink the juice, eat a little, drink, and eat. Tradition says that whoever gets dirty with the stew, or pours it, will have to pay everyone’s salteñas! There are meat or chicken salteñas, with or without spicy. It became one of my biggest passions since the first time I tried it, I adore it, I tried to cook salteñas but it is very difficult and the result was horrible. I will try again. Andrea clearly loves them too! And his dad the day we returned to Madrid brought to the airport a surprise breakfast: Salteñas! It was very nice to say goodbye to everyone in this way, as we had started the holidays, having breakfast together, eating Bolivian delicacies.
I loved these holidays!
I hope you enjoyed this round trip on our Christmas holidays and that you liked these 5 Bolivian dishes that take me to Bolivia. If you still do not know Bolivia, I strongly recommend you take advantage when you can and go to know. If you want advice about the country or its delicious food, you can write to us whenever you want from our page, or on Facebook and Instagram, we will be happy to talk more about that beautiful land. Now, it’s time to say goodbye, see you next week with a new story.