Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Eats in Bolivia

Submitted by: Clare Lassiter, Franciscan Mission Service missioner, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Bolivia is a unique country in that everyone here loves to eat. While walking the streets of Cochabamba, one can smell many delicious foods being cooked. The aroma of freshly baked bread wafts from pastry shops, inviting passers by to stop and purchase bread even if when they don't need it! In the early morning there is also the smell of Api and pastel. Api is a thick, hot drink made from fermented corn. As the api is cooking, cinnamon sticks and sugar are added. Pastel is fried dough with melted cheese in the middle, and powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Then there is the Saltena, which makes me hungry every time that I pass by. It is a pot pie in your hand! Saltena is a sweet corn crust made with a spicy juice, chicken, green peas, potatoes, egg, and an olive. If you take a huge bite of Saltena, the juice will start coming out and there is no way to stop it. However, if you take little nibbles and suck the juice out, then you savor the taste. All of these smells cause an incredible hunger that is hard to tame.


Naturally, her experience in Bolivia continues to influence the way Clare cooks. Generally she takes inventory of what is in the kitchen, combines what's available, then she lets the smells guide the rest of the cooking process. She says it is always an adventure in the kitchen!

Veggies and Soy Chunks
Note: The vegetables can be changed based on what's locally available or in season.
●Diced zucchini and onions. Sauté these two vegetables together until soft with any desired spice. I used Italian seasonings.
●Diced squash. Sauté the squash until soft and with any desired spice. I used salt and pepper
● Before sautéing the soy chunks, soak them in hot water for 7 minutes. Sauté soy chunks with soy sauce and 3T water (to prevent burning) for about 15 minutes.

Clare Lassiter currently serves in Cochabamba, Bolivia with the Franciscan Mission Service. Clare works with children age 1-5 who have AIDS/HIV or other serious medical issues. She also works with adolescent girls who have come from abusive home situations. Clare works hard serving the young people of Bolivia. In her time there, she has also come to appreciate the culture, including the smells and the tastes of the country.