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Bolivian Food: 26 Popular Dishes + 7 Beverages

Bolivian food is often overshadowed by more notable cuisines like that of Brazil or Peru. However, the country’s diverse geography and climate have given each region a set of diverse foods and dishes unique only to that area. Find here the most popular Bolivian dishes, plus secret recipe tips.

Like almost every other country in South America, meals in Bolivia center around family gatherings. In the US, the main meal is usually dinner or supper. In Bolivia, on the other hand, the most important meal of the day is lunch.

We can’t get enough of Bolivia’s rich history, diverse culture, and distinctive typography. That’s why we decided to dedicate this post to Bolivian food.

From popular traditional dishes to street food to secret recipe tips, you’ll find everything you need to learn about Bolivia and its remarkable cuisine right here. Let’s jump in.

Traditional Bolivian Cuisine

Traditional Bolivian Cuisine

Bolivia’s terrain spans across snow-capped Andes mountains to the splendor of the Amazon Rainforest. So, it’s no surprise that the country’s cuisine is linked to its remarkable geography. Below are eight must-try traditional Bolivian cuisine.

Majadito

Majadito

Majadito is probably the most popular dish in the eastern regions of Bolivia. It consists of dried meat and toasted rice and is served with fried eggs, tomatoes, and a fried plantain salad.

This dish is more popular in eastern parts of Bolivia where the food is influenced by the region’s tropical climate. Some Bolivians like to also serve a fried banana alongside the dish to give it a more tropical flair.

Cuñapé

Cuñapé

This is a type of bread made of a special kind of cheese manufactured in Santa Cruz. In addition to the baked cheese, cuñapé is also made with cassava flour. Its mouthwatering flavors and unique texture will have you begging for more.

Chajchu

Chajchu

A typical Bolivian dish, Chajchu is native to the valley region. To make it, prepare some frayed beef and cook it together with onions, potatoes, and tender beans. It’s typically served with chili sauce and tomatoes, which bring out the rich flavors of the meat.

Humintas

Humintas

Humintas is a sweet dish often served as a snack or as part of a breakfast meal. They’re made by mixing grated sweetcorn with sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. Some Bolivians also like to sprinkle in a bit of cheese to give it a richer flavor.

These ingredients are wrapped in corn leaves, aka tamales, which are then either grilled or steamed.

Yuca Sonso

Yuca Sonso

Yuca sonso is a peculiar dish, even by Bolivian standards, but it’s undoubtedly one of the tastiest. To make it, mix some cheese with a cassava puree.

Then, the mixture is prepared on a grill, giving it that mouthwatering smoky flavor.

Silpancho

Silpancho

The word silpancho means ‘thin and pounded,’ which refers to how the meat is served in this hearty dish. In addition to the meat, silpancho consists of other good-for-you ingredients.

It’s made with meat pastry customarily served with potatoes, fried eggs, and white rice. Some people also like to serve a carrot and beetroot salad alongside it to make it even more fulfilling.

Noodle Chili

Noodle Chili

Noodle chili may not be your typical meat dish, but it’s quite popular in Bolivia. Made with veal tongue marinated in a spicy sauce, it’s in rich tomato sauce, onions, and a dash of coriander.

This authentic Latin American dish is often served with chuño, which is dehydrated or freeze-dried potatoes.

Anticuchos

Anticuchos

Anticuchos is one of the most popular traditional dishes in Bolivia. It’s made with potatoes and meat brochette, which are cooked on a grill and served with a rather spicy peanut sauce. Tasty and wallet-friendly, this dish is typically eaten with your hands.

Most Popular Street Foods in Bolivia

Most Popular Street Foods in Bolivia

If you’ve ever been to a foreign country, you know that one of the best ways to understand its culture and people is to discover its most popular street foods. And Bolivia is no different.

This is a country where street food is both cheap and super yummy as is the case with the five top picks we’ve chosen here.

Barbecued Trout

Barbecued Trout

Barbecued trout has been a popular street food since the 1930s. Since then, it’s had a special place on the menus of Bolivia, particularly in towns surrounding Lake Titicaca, a large freshwater lake located in the Andes mountains between Bolivia and Peru.

There, vendors stand on the shores to wait for the freshest fish. The first step is to prepare the trout by removing the scales, soaking it in vinegar or soy sauce, and marinating it. Then, the vendors grill it and wait for hungry passersby to rush over.

Chambergo

Chambergo

If you’re craving something sweet, chambergo is the way to go. This street food is probably one of the most satisfying ways to get your fill as you’re roaming the streets of Bolivia.

It’s made of deep-fried dough glazed in a sweet syrup. Besides being super yummy, it’s also pretty affordable with vendors selling them for around one Bolíviano, which comes to about $0.15.

Jawitas

Jawitas

If you enjoy delicious, fresh bread wrapped around a nice helping of melted cheese, then you have to try a jawita. The secret to this seemingly simple street food is that the exterior is a golden bread casing of freshly baked dough.

After that, the core is the same type of salty Bolivian cheese served with practically every mealtime.

Chicharrón de Llama

Chicharrón de Llama

Llamas are considered to be a healthier alternative to red meat. Hence, this street dish is a staple in almost every type of Andean cuisine.

Chicharrón de llama is made by marinating chunks of meat in herbs, spices, vegetable oil, and garlic. Then, it’s fried until it’s crispy and golden brown. It’s often served in a convenient takeaway bowl with either corn or rice.

Papas Rellenas

Papas Rellenas

Papas rellenas isn’t your traditional meat and potato dish, but something more juicy and aromatic. It consists of a layer of thick mashed potatoes wrapped around a mixture of beef, tomatoes, red pepper, and delicious gravy.

Finally, it’s deep-fried to give it that golden brown, crunchy exterior while still keeping the insides nice and tender.

Bolivian Food in the World

Bolivian Food in the World

Bolivia isn’t big on shipping its traditional cuisine to other parts of the world. For example, you won’t walk into your local mall and find a stand selling Bolivian food, but you can find several eating establishments that serve Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Mexican foods.

Nevertheless, while this quaint Latin American country doesn’t showcase its food globally, it’s famous for exporting other food items around the world.

For example, the most produced food commodity in the country was sugarcane, producing nearly 10 million metric tons in 2019 alone.

Bolivia is also known for growing soybeans, producing an average of nearly 3 million metric tons in 2019. What started out as an export sent to nearby countries, mainly Brazil and Argentina, now spans the globe.

This is largely in part due to the increasing demand for healthier protein-based foods and vegetable oils.
In third place, comes the famous potato.

In 2019, Bolivia was known to produce over 1 million metric tons of the starchy root vegetable. While this may not be a substantial amount compared to neighboring countries like Brazil, it’s still considered an impressive feat.

After all, potatoes have been the go-to crop, providing sustenance, comfort, and a reliable livelihood for generations past and present.

How Healthy Bolivian Food Is?

How Healthy Bolivian Food Is?

Compared to most other cuisines around the world, Bolivian food is certainly one of the healthiest you’ll come across. There are certainly several dishes that are laden with calories, but the majority of the dishes can be considered pretty healthy.

This is because Bolivian cuisine is primarily based on fresh, seasonal produce. This ensures that almost every meal consists of a range of colorful vegetables, lean meat, and fresh fish.

These ingredients are known to have a higher nutritional value because they’re rich in minerals, vitamins, and fibers. At the same time, they’re quite low on calories.

Here’s another fun tip: Bolivia is currently recognized as the world’s largest producer of organic cocoa.

Famous and Popular Bolivian Dishes You Have to Try

Famous and Popular Bolivian Dishes You Have to Try

These six dishes listed below are some of the most popular in all of Bolivia.

Sandwich de Chola

Sandwich de Chola

Sandwich de chola is an ever-popular presence in most regions of Bolivia, but especially in the streets of La Paz. it may look deceptively simple, but once you take a bite, you’ll understand why it has a special place in the heart of every Bolivian.

The base for this sandwich is two round pieces of bread almost like hamburger buns but much tastier. The bread is filled with slices of crispy pork, either baked or roasted, and seasoned with herbs and quirquiña. On top of that are layers of lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, and carrots.

Fricasé

Fricasé

Fricasé is a type of stew made with either spicy pork or chicken. It was adapted from a French recipe, but Bolivians quickly added unique ingredients to make it their very own.

For example, the Bolivian version consists of a wide range of vegetables, such as onion, hominy, garlic, and red-yellow chili peppers. You can easily adjust the consistency of the stew by adding breadcrumbs.

Papitas

Papitas

To make this delicacy, first cook quinoa grains until tender. Next, combine them with bread that has been soaked in milk and eggs for at least 30 minutes.

Knead the mixture together then shape them into balls. After that, stuff the balls with a seasoned tuna mixture, flatten them slightly, and fry until they turn a nice shade of golden brown.

Picante de Pollo

Picante de Pollo

Picante de Pollo is originally a Creole dish native to western Bolivia. It consists of a whole chicken, marinated in a thick, spicy traditional Bolivian sauce made with potatoes. Then, the chicken is either sauteed or fried.

This dish is more commonly made in winter and served alongside potatoes or a bed or white rice.

Pique Macho

Pique Macho

This dish originates from the valley region. Its loose translation is ‘dish for the man’ because of the way it’s served and all the different ingredients that go into making it.

Pique macho is basically a big heap of well-seasoned strips of beef, hot dogs or sausages, onions, chorizo, chili peppers, tomatoes, and several hard-boiled eggs.

It’s commonly served with traditional condiments or a special sauce made with llajua, oil, vinegar, and beer.

Soups and Salads

Soups and Salads

Thanks to the country’s diverse geography, it has plenty of fresh, colorful vegetables to offer on a daily basis. That’s why soups and salads are such a big part of Bolivian cuisine.

Soups

Soups

Most soups have a quinoa base. After that, layers of wheat, beans, and vegetables are added.
Take a look at some of the healthiest and tastiest soups in Bolivia:

  • Ulluco soup: consists of potatoes, beef, and papalisa
  • Quinoa soup: made with Bolivia’s all-time two favorite ingredients: quinoa and potatoes, along with peas, beans, onions, and lamb.
  • Chairo soup: a chunky, rich broth made with chuño, beef, lamb, corn, tomatoes, onions, and beans and flavored with tasty herbs and spices

Salads

Salads

In a country where there’s an abundance of fresh veggies year-round, it’s no wonder Bolivians are known for their wide range of tasty, nutritious, and colorful choices of salads.

Here are just a few of the more popular types of salads you’ll find in Bolivia:

  • Corn and honey mustard salad: made with white corn, bell peppers, mayonnaise, honey mustard, and a teaspoon of sugar to tie everything together
  • Avocado and tomato salad: this nutritious salad is made with notions, tomatoes, parsley, vegetable oil, and vinegar mixed together and plated into avocados that have been halved and pitted
  • Salpicon: this Bolivian-style chicken salad is made with diced vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes, as well as shredded chicken pieces, and lettuce. It’s drizzled with a mayonnaise-based dressing and served with rice.

Starters, Sandwiches, and Sides

Cuñape

Some of the street food bites mentioned above make great starters. Another popular appetizer is papa rellena. Even though it’s filling enough to be a meal on its own, many restaurants often serve it before the main course.

Sandwiches in Bolivia are quite rich, luscious, and full of flavor. One popular sandwich is the choripan. It’s essentially a hot dog bun filled with sausages, sliced vegetables, and a zesty tomato sauce.

Yet, the most famous sandwich in all of Bolivia has to be the salteña. So much so, in fact, that it’s considered to be Bolivia’s signature dish with many referring to it as the ‘national dish of Bolivia.’

Salteñas are made with either chicken or beef. Then, a mash-up of savory veggies is added, such as onions, peas, potatoes, and olives.

These yummy pocket sandwiches can be eaten as a snack or as a side served alongside a full meal.
Other sides include:

  • Cuñape: golden brown and crispy on the outside and filled with melted cheese on the inside, these finger foods are made of eggs, white cheese, and nutritious yam flour
  • Rice: rice is often served with many meals to add nutritional value as well as color and texture
  • Potatoes: with over 10,000 varieties of potatoes grown in Bolivia, it’s hard not to imagine having this root vegetable as a side to every meal
  • Sonso de Yuca: this traditional snack is made from cassava, two types of cheese, milk, eggs, butter, and salt, which are shaped onto skewers and then grilled until golden brown
  • Escabeche de Verduras: these sweet pickled vegetables consist of common vegetables, such as peppers, onions, or carrots, marinated in vinegar, herbs, and spices
  • Pasteles de Queso: a type of cheese-filled pastry baked until golden brown and served as a snack or a complementary side as part of a main meal

Mains

Mains

The custom in Bolivia is that meals are typically family-centered with the main meal being lunch. Some of the main dishes served at this time are made with hearty ingredients to help sustain eaters throughout the day.

So, you’ll often find dishes made of lean meat, chicken, and other sources of protein. These are served with turnovers, pies, or the famous Bolivian bread. Soups, stews, and salads are also an integral part of lunchtime, especially during the colder months.

Most meals, with lunch being no exception, are served with hot pepper sauce or the traditional llajua.
The meal is usually followed by any type of dessert and enjoyed with tea, yerba mate, coffee, or chicha, which is a type of beer made from corn.

Some of the main dishes served at lunch include:

  • Papa Rellenas: mashed potatoes stuffed with either cheese, beef, or eggs, then the potatoes are battered and deep-fried
  • Saliensa: turnovers stuffed with ground beef or shredded meat
  • Humitas: pies filled with corn and other vegetables
  • Boiled potatoes with hard-boiled eggs: this straightforward dish is often referred to as simply almuerzo, which means ‘lunchtime’ in Spanish
  • Sopa de maní: made with peanuts, this delicious soup also contains pasta, pieces of meat, potatoes, and sometimes a handful of chopped vegetables
  • Roasted pig and spicy thick stews: are often served on special occasions and holidays

Bread, Pastries, and Dessert

Bread, Pastries, and Dessert

Since corn and wheat are a staple in Bolivian cuisine, this makes their bread, pastries, and desserts some of the tastiest and most savory in the whole world.

Bread

Bread

The most famous bread rolls in the country are called marraquetas, with some natives referring to it as a ‘national food of Bolivia.’ It dates back to the early 19th century when it arrived in Bolivia at the hands of Greek immigrants.

Also called pan de batalla, or battled bread, these oval-shaped rolls are crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They’re often served at meals and are the most common type of bread found in the majority of Bolivian bakeries.

Api

Api

Api isn’t a dessert per se, but it’s still one of Bolivia’s best-loved sweet, comforting treats. While other countries may enjoy a cup of cocoa to warm them up, Bolivians enjoy their api, which is made from finely ground corn, not cocoa.

The powered corn is combined with various spices, mainly cloves and cinnamon. After that, hot water is added, transforming the fine powder into a smooth liquid with rich flavors that taste sweet and heavenly.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon ice cream, or helado de canela, is the ultimate summer treat. It’s also perfect for anyone who’s lactose intolerant because it’s not made with dairy.

Instead, this delicious frozen snack is made with water, cornstarch, red food coloring, lemon juice, and plenty of sugar. And, of course, the main ingredient, cinnamon, which is known for its natural cooling properties.

Alfajores

Alfajores

Alfajores are a type of cookie sandwich you can find freshly baked in many street vendors or local bakeries. The cookie parts of the alfajores are buttery, soft, and tender, just like a cookie should be.

The filling is a thick, sugary caramelized sauce made by slowly warming up condensed milk on low heat. The result is a dense, creamy confection that melts in your mouth.

Tawa-Tawas

Tawa-Tawas

If you’re into crispy treats, the tawa-tawas should be right up your alley.

For this recipe, the dough is made like any basic bread, using flour, yeast, oil, and eggs. When it comes together, it’s rolled out and cut into diamond shapes or rectangles.

After that, these deep-fried bread pieces are dipped in honey, and then coated in a sprinkling of sugar. This gives them a crisp, crunchy exterior that gives way to a fluffy, soft interior.

Cocadas

Cocadas

Cocadas are an irresistible kind of candy made by mixing icing grated coconut, condensed milk, and sugar. Some people like to add an egg and a dash of vanilla while others prefer to replace the egg with macadamia nuts.

Either way, the ingredients are shaped into balls, placed into a pan, and put in the oven to bake until golden brown. This sweet traditional Bolivian confectionery works both as a snack and a dessert.

Secret Recipe Tips

Secret Recipe Tips

Many believe that Bolivian cuisine is one of the best-kept secrets in the world. While their cooking techniques may be the same as everyone else’s, it’s the way Bolivians have managed to bring together everyday ingredients.

They combine them to make some of the most delicious and appetizing foods in the world.

How do they do it? Bolivians aren’t big on giving out their age-old recipe secrets. But we managed to gather some of their cooking tips to give you some insight into the creativity and inventiveness that goes into making such fine-tasting cuisine.

Take a look.

  1. Meat, which is the main ingredient in many Bolivian dishes, is either boiled or fried.
  2. Potatoes represent the main source of carbohydrates in the region.
  3. The way a dish is prepared is determined by the ingredients used to make it.
  4. Even the beverages can be prepared in several ways depending on what goes into making them.
  5. To ensure every dish comes out tasting as it should, every ingredient has to be measured out precisely.
  6. The recipe for the Bolivian sulteña originally came from the Argentinian empanadas, with the difference between the two being the filling, which, in the former, can only be either chicken or meat, and it’s much juicier and tender.
  7. The traditional spicy sauce, llajua, is served with almost every type of dish, from sandwiches to snacks to main meals, and it also makes for a terrific salsa for your tortilla chips.

Beverages

Beverages

We’ve been talking about traditional foods and meals in Bolivia. Now, let’s look at some of the popular beverages in Bolivia. Here are our seven top picks.

Yungueño

Yungueño

This traditional Bolivian cocktail gets its name from the Yungas region. This is a collection of humid valleys on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains.

It’s made with simple sugar syrup, orange juice, and singani, which is a potent and aromatic Bolivian brandy distilled from Muscat of Alexandria white wine grapes. The ingredients are well-mixed and placed in the fridge to cool down.

Mocochinchi

Mocochinchi

A kind of dehydrated cider made with peaches rather than apples, mocochinchi is one of the most popular drinks in Bolivia.

You can usually find it being sold at parks, plazas, and street corners. Vendors like to sell it in large glass jars along with other refreshing beverages, such as somó and chica de piña.

While the main ingredient may be dehydrated whole peaches, there are also other fruits and spices added to give it that delicious, sweet drink perfect for a hot, summer day.

Some of these additional ingredients include black raisins, orange juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, sugar, and water.

Somó

Somó

This corn-based Bolivian drink is more popular in the eastern parts of the country. It’s made with a special type of small-kernel corn known as frangollo. The corn is boiled and left to soak together with cloves and cinnamon.

Once the corn has cooked thoroughly, the beverage is then sweetened. Some people also like to make somó thicker with a mixture of corn flour and water.

Either way, this milky, somewhat sweet drink is served chilled with corn kernels or filtered.

Chicha de Piña

Chicha de Piña

Chicha de piña is a refreshing fizzy drink prepared with pineapple that can be found in several Latin American countries, but it’s more popular in Bolivia.

The ingredients typically include pineapple core and rind, water, and spices like anise or cinnamon sticks. There’s also sugar added to the mix, preferably brown sugar or unrefined cane sugar, known as piloncillo or panela.

Even though it’s usually fermented, it can also be simmered and served at once. If fermented, this mixture is typically left for several days before serving.

Té con Té

Té con Té

Translated as ‘tea with tea,’ this warming beverage is made with tea, lime, and cinnamon. Yet, the secret ingredient is singani.

To prepare té con té, start with freshly brewed black tea infused with cinnamon. After that, the infusion is spiked with singani, garnished with a cinnamon stick or a lime wheel, and served hot.

Chuflay

Chuflay

Chuflay is a well-known cocktail in Bolivia. It consists of a base of singani poured in a tall glass over ice followed by some ginger ale, 7-Up, or Sprite. Then, the glass is garnished with a slice of lime.

Even though it’s a pretty simple beverage, it’s one of the most popular drinks, especially at special events like weddings, anniversaries, and promotions at work.

Garapiña

Garapiña

This popular Bolivian beverage is believed to have originated in Quillacollo: Garapiña. It’s a mix of cinnamon and chica, which is a corn-based alcoholic beverage. Additional ingredients often include coconut to give the drink a fruity, more palatable flavor.

Some people also like cinnamon ice cream, helado de canela, instead of cinnamon to add some sweetness. Other variations include adding the seeds of airampo cactus, which give the drink its distinctive red tint.

Ingredients

Ingredients

As you can probably guess by now, Bolivian cuisine is rich in flavors, textures, and tastes. This is all thanks to the wide range of distinctive ingredients known to the region.

The result is a concoction of popular ingredients, such as corn, quinoa, and beans. And let’s not forget the 10,000 native varieties of potatoes grown in almost every region of the country.

Another contributing factor to the wide range of unique ingredients in the region is the fusion of various cultures that have helped shape Bolivia’s current cuisine throughout the years.

The most famous were the Spanish conquistadors who arrived in the 16th century. These soldiers brought with them various culinary contributions that have become mainstream staples to this day.

These contributions include rice, wheat, and European livestock that hadn’t been known before in the area.

Before the Spaniards, the indigenous people like the Aymara and the Inca had their own traditions when it came to the types of foods they ate and the produce they cultivated. They were surrounded by an abundance of fertile soil and they knew how to make the most of it.

For instance, the indigenous people were the ones who came up with ways to create hearty stews and preserve foods. These practices, and more, remain cherished to this day.

In addition to the conquistadors, enslaved people from Africa who were brought over to work the land managed to contribute their own unique flavor to the mix.

Then, there’s also the Asian influence from Chinese immigrants who arrived in Bolivia in the early 20th century, bringing with them their flair for stir-frying rice and vegetables.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Bolivian cuisine is exciting, colorful, and full of wonderful flavors. That’s all thanks to the wide range of vegetables and proteins used to make all their delicious dishes.

Yet, it’s the herbs and spices that help tie everything together, infusing the fascinating flavors that Bolivian food is best known for.

Take a look at the most popular herbs and spices commonly used in Bolivia.

Herbs

Herbs

Herbs are a prevalent part of cooking in Latin America, and Bolivia is no exception. Bolivian cooking relies heavily on a variety of herbs. We rounded up three that stood out the most, not only because of the rich flavors they add to every dish but because they’ve become part of Bolivian tradition.

  • Koa: used more commonly in a fish-based soup called wallake and to garnish salads; it keeps longer than most herbs and is known for having a fragrant smell and pleasant taste
  • Quirquiña: also known as killi or Bolivian Coriander; has a powerful aroma and is used to make soltero salad and to season various types of meat
  • Wacataya: often referred to as the ‘Amazon Black Mint,’ this herb has a pungent aroma similar to mint, tarragon, and basil; is often used to make llajua and other flavorful dishes

Spices

Spices

As we’ve seen in most of the recipes mentioned above, Bolivians can’t get enough of cinnamon. Besides producing the aromatic brown spice, Bolivia is also one of the top Latin American countries that consume a substantial amount of cinnamon.

Coming in second place is comino, or cumin. It’s used in abundance in Bolivian cuisine, particularly meat dishes.

Bolivian Food Culture

Bolivian Food Culture

Bolivia may be a small landlocked nation in South America bordered by more substantial countries all around; Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile to the south and Peru and Brazil to the north.

This notable South American country is divided into three regions that make the country more rural than urban overall: the valleys, the tropical lowlands, and the Altiplano.

The remarkable topography of these three regions is one reason why Bolivia is known for its diverse cuisine and distinctive dishes made from an abundance of nature’s bounties.

It’s also the reason behind Bolivia’s food culture characteristic only to this country as you can see below.

Eating Habits

Eating Habits

Most Bolivian dishes are predominantly vegan. There are certainly meat-based dishes, but the majority of the dishes are made using the country’s traditional staples, such as beans, potatoes, corn, and quinoa.

One food custom is Bolivia’s traditional mid-morning snack. During this 30-minute break, locals take some time off to enjoy a delicious salteña. They can also enjoy a cup of tea or coffee alongside the light sandwich, which is typically a baked empanada filled with meat and vegetables.

During this time, everything in the country stops. It’s become such an ingrained part of national tradition that stores, offices, businesses, and even some government establishments will all close shop to take part in this customary food ritual.

Meal Structure

Meal Structure

In Bolivia, the day typically revolves around five meal times: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, tea time, and dinner.

Breakfast (Desayuno)

Breakfast (Desayuno)

Breakfast in this quaint Latin American country isn’t heavy or hearty. There’s coffee or tea and bread or toast covered in your choice of honey, jam, or jelly. You can also enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal, semola, or quinoa cereal.

Certain regions, however, are known for preferring one type of breakfast over another. For example, in the Western highlands, they enjoy eating boiled potatoes or chuño for breakfast served with fresh cheese and a hard-boiled egg.

On the other hand, in the east and northern regions, it’s more customary for Boivians to enjoy a fruit-based breakfast. This can be anything from fruit smoothies or salads to fruit shakes and yogurt.

Mid-Morning Snack (Bocadillo de Media Mañana)

Mid-Morning Snack (Bocadillo de Media Mañana)

The mid-morning snack has become such a steadfast ritual that it’s customary for everyone in the country to stop what they’re doing and enjoy their mid-morning snack.

While most Bolivians will typically reach for the ever-popular salteña during this time, there are other snacks to choose from, such as empanadas, anticuchos, and tucumanas.

Lunch (Almuerzo)

Lunch (Almuerzo)

Lunch is a big deal in Bolivia. It’s so big that stores and the majority of businesses close at midday, roughly between 12 pm and 3 pm.

During this time, people go home, rest, and enjoy a hearty meal that typically consists of several courses. These courses can include soup, a main course of meat, vegetables, rice or bread, and a colorful salad.

They’re often followed by dessert and coffee.

Tea Time (Té)

Tea Time (Té)

Bolivians take another break around 4 or 5 pm, this time to enjoy a warm, comforting cup of tea. Almost every ‘salones de té’ across the country will be packed during this time to accommodate customary tea drinkers. These tea salons also serve baked goods, which make for delicious late-afternoon snacks.

Dinner (Cena)

Dinner (Cena)

Then, dinner is typically served between 8 and 9 pm. Dinner is often lighter than lunch, mainly because almost everyone has had their fill during their tea break so they’re not all that hungry come dinner time.

Etiquette

Etiquette

As with any foreign country, the better you know and understand its customs and dining etiquette, the better you’ll fare with the locals.

Here are some interesting tips to follow on your next trip to Bolivia:

  1. Avoid eating with your hands except with hot dogs or burgers.
  2. Prepare to use forks and knives at all times even when you’re eating pizza, fruit, or chicken.
  3. If someone asks you to pass something, like the salt shaker, salad bowl, etc., set it down next to them on the table rather than hand it to them directly. If they’re not right beside you, pass it on to the person next to you until it arrives at its intended destination.
  4. Avoid reaching across the table to pass or toss something to another diner.
  5. Avoid making negative or inappropriate comments about the food.
  6. Always place your napkin on your lap to wipe your mouth. And never use it to wipe your nose or spit into it.
  7. Never burp or slurp your drink at the table.
  8. Keep both hands visible at the table at all times, even when you’re not eating. Simply keep them on the table.
  9. Avoid placing your elbows directly on the table. It’s considered a sign of disrespect, not just in Bolivia but also in most other regions around the world.
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