The past couple of months have been of the typical whirlwind nearing Christmas and the end of the year type. So much has happened, events become a muddle. But I’ll try to pick out some of the most interesting!
Here’s one for starters. About two weeks before I left Spain for my Christmas holidays at home, I was invited by friends at church to join them for some lunch that Sunday. I accepted the invitation, tentatively, not sure of what I was letting myself in for! Of course, in Scotland, we have a great Sunday lunch tradition, and I knew better than to expect a similar experience. I was in for a treat! We, about seven of us from church, walked for a bout five minutes to a flat, and gradually I pieced together an understanding of the situation. We were at the home of a Christian family who Erika, the friend who had invited me, knew well. They are from Bolivia, as is Erika, and as the father is having trouble finding work at the moment, he and his wife cook typical Bolivian meals to serve to friends who pay them a small amount of money in exchange. They were of course very friendly, everyone I come across here is very friendly. We all sat down at a large table together and were served our three courses. I was given some honour in being served first, and was determined to try whatever was put in front of me.
The first dish held some Scottish similarities in that it was a bowl of soup. It had an unusual taste, not horrible, and I managed most of it. The whole meal was spent in them trying to explain to me what I was eating! And between their explanations and my visits to the dictionary afterwards, I can tell you about most of what I ate! The soup was peanut soup, I would never have guessed the flavour! It was interesting, and could even grow on you I’m sure. The second course had two meat options, red meat (not sure if it was lamb or beef or something else, they only said ‘carne’ which means meat) or chicken. I opted for chicken and was not disappointed! It was a slowly roasted leg of chicken, absolutely delicious, especially as I don’t have an oven in my flat and can’t roast anything. It was accompanied with rice. They said that a Bolivian wouldn’t consider a meal a meal unless it included some rice! And a sweetcorn, potato, apple and mayonnaise salad. It was so good!
They didn’t think I would enjoy the pudding at all, especially once I figured out what it was! It came in plastic cups and was white with the consistency of robust jelly. It didn’t wobbly a lot, but had the same look and feel of jelly. They wanted me to try it before explaining what it was, and even then it took a while for me to figure out what it was. It had a great flavour, comforting. And they were surprised I continued to eat what I knew to be made with animal joint cartilages. They boil the cartilages in milk with some cinnamon and then the liquid sets once cooled due to the gelatin. It didn’t horrify me as they expected, one who’s grown up with marags and haggis! It is very popular in Bolivia and very nourishing. They give it to their children as breakfast to eat on the way to school, or have it as a snack. It is quite rich though and after such a lunch, I couldn’t quite finish it all. With the meal we had had a special drink called ‘Chicha’ which I thought tasted like Christmas. It was quite nice as well, but strong when not used to it.
So that was my experience of Bolivian food. It didn’t turn out to be as surprising as I thought it might, and I enjoyed it. Below is a menu written by Erika of what was served.
Plato Boliviano – Bolivian Meal
Primera Plato – First course
Sopa de mani/cacahuete – Peanut Soup (Peanut is ‘mani’ to some folk & ‘cacahuete’ to others)
Plato Principal – Second course
Polo al horno – Roast chicken
Arroz tostado – Brown rice
Enslada de manzana con maiz dulce y mahonesa – Apple, sweetcorn & mayonnaise salad(I think there was some potato in there too)
Postre – Pudding/sweet/dessert (whichever you prefer to use!)
Gelatina de colapi con leche y canela – Gelatin from animal cartilages, with milk and cinnamon
Chicha– Plunge toasted flour into cold water.
-Put into a pan of boiling water
with nutmeg and ground coconut and boil for 30 minutes.