Mar­ket Foods of La Paz

SAVEUR - - Bolivia -

On ev­ery street cor­ner and in ev­ery mar­ket, women sell snacks and pro­duce from street carts and stalls, of which all stripes of cit­i­zen par­take.

Sal­teñas are the es­sen­tial Bo­li­vian break­fast pas­try, con­sist­ing of a sub­tly sweet dough filled with saucy meat, veg­eta­bles, and some­times egg, sealed with a braid, and baked.

Paste­les de queso are fluffy pock­ets of sweet fried dough filled with squeaky white cheese and dusted with pow­dered su­gar. They’re of­ten paired with api­morado, a hot, spiced drink made from pur­ple corn.

The chola, La Paz and El Alto’s tra­di­tional sand­wich (named for the coun­try’s in­dige­nous women, who of­ten serve them), is a pile of soft and crackly roasted pork shoul­der, pick­led onions and car­rots, and ají chile sauce on a bun.

Ocas, An­dean tu­bers that look like wrin­kled fin­gers and taste like a sour potato (at right), are red, yel­low, or some­times a tie-dyed peachy pink. They’re one of hun­dreds of tu­ber va­ri­eties found in Bo­livia’s High­lands.

Chuños are pota­toes that have been re­peat­edly freeze-dried over the course of frigid High­land win­ter nights, and then stomped on and freezedried again. Some­thing of a sur­vival food, they’re a bit funky, like a potato truf­fle, and will last a decade in a root cel­lar. Ulupica pep­pers’ mi­nus­cule size—sim­i­lar to a small cherry pit—be­lie their heat (very spicy) and im­por­tance (as the pro­gen­i­tor of all cap­sicums).

Coca leaves are sun-dried, then chewed or brewed as tea for en­ergy, ap­petite sup­pres­sion, and—for the Alti­plano tourist—to ease al­ti­tude sick­ness. They’re sold by women of­ten seen suck­ing on a cheek­ful of coca them­selves.

Mar­ket stands fill the streets.

A butcher in her car­nicería.

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