A Guide To The Cuisine Of Bolivia

After returning from a recent trip to Bolivia, my friends and family had little to ask me about what I did or where I went. While they had heard of the precarious Death Road, the high altitude city of La Paz and the old mining town of Potosi, what they were really curious to know was what I had eaten.

The cuisine in Bolivia is characterized by the country’s high altitude and Andean landscape, ancient Inca growing methods like terrace farming, and flavors brought over by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. Because of their climate and location, an abundance of potatoes, corn and quinoa can be grown. For example, there are about 200 varieties of potatoes, 1,500 varieties of corn and 1,800 varieties of quinoa in the Andean region. Not surprisingly, these foods tend to be incorporated into many meals. Typically, Bolivians eat a simple breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a leisurely lunch consisting of several courses, tea and biscuits around 5 p.m. and a light dinner.

For a more visual idea of the typical food fare in Bolivia, check out the gallery below.


[Image via Dan Perlman from SaltShaker.net]

Up and at ’em: breakfasts around the world

Your mother told you to never skip breakfast. That also holds true for when you travel, for it is the morning meal that prepares you for your days of museum hopping and temple touring, zip-lining and mountain biking, market haggling and people watching.

Simpler than lunch or dinner, breakfast is less prone to culinary innovation and more likely to be an honest representation of its country’s culture and native foods. Sure, boxed cereals are available in every corner of the globe and eggs tend to be a breakfast staple the world over. But have you ever thought to start your day with ceviche, olives, or a bowl of piping hot noodles?

We here at Gadling are dedicated to providing you with travel inspiration and what’s a better motivator than seeing some of the breakfasts you can expect to wake up to? Enjoy this gallery of breakfasts around the world and tell us in the comments below about a breakfast that made your travels special.


Photo by Flickr user Pocket Cultures

Why do we take pictures of our food?

In a sweaty, back alley restaurant in Trujillo, Peru, the shy Peruvian waiter approached my table with a vibrant plate of ceviche. Placing it upon the handwoven tablecloth, there lapsed a good three seconds where all I could do was stare. Then, before reaching for my fork, I instead reached for my camera.

I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people who take pictures of their food. I know a lot of you are as well. It’s only an occasional occurrence, as I’m not known to photograph cereal I’m gulping down when late to work. I only immortalize my food in megapixels when the plate in front of me goes beyond my culinary expectations. If you present me with a plate of food and I take a photo of it, consider it a compliment. While I recognize this is a curious trait, the following is an attempt to justify what exactly drives me, and many others, to feel the need to photograph their food.

First off, this exact plate of food is never going to be here again. If I don’t capture it now, the moment will be lost to the acids of digestion and gone forever. This plate of food before me–particularly if it’s traditional, regional cuisine– is as much of a cultural attraction as any monument listed in a guidebook or brochure. While in Trujillo, I must have taken 35 pictures of the Huaca de la Luna, an ancient Moche temple that’s stood for 1700 years. With that sort of history, there’s a good chance I could come back ten years from now and snap the exact same photo. This plate of ceviche, on the other hand, is never going to be here again. It’s a fleeting moment that needs documenting before it disappears forever.

%Gallery-135590%Second, I photograph dishes I can tell are going to be either unbelievably incredible, or gut wretchingly awful. When looking back on my photos, I want to have the ability to say “that meal was unspeakably good” (steak in Argentina) or “why does my meat still have hair on it?” (mystery meat in Ecuador). Every plate of food I consume has a story behind it, and just as I would with any other attraction, I want to be able to reminisce on how that food contributed to the greater moment as a whole.

From a cultural standpoint, regional cuisine is as important as any other item you may choose to photograph. Just as the 800 year old Roman fort towering about the coastal Spanish town of Tossa de Mar exudes a Mediterranean charm, so does the steaming plate of paella served with a pitcher of sangria in the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. The dense fog that ‘s consuming the western coast of Connemara, Ireland is as intrinsic to the Irish experience as a heaping bowl of seafood chowder washed down with brown bread and Guinness. Though taking a photo doesn’t make the food taste any better, it nonetheless is a stamp of cultural approval as if to say, “I was there, and it’s as good as it was meant to be”. The same way you would take a picture of the white sand beaches of Koh Chang, Thailand, so should you document your peanut covered bowl of chicken pad thai.

Finally, what’s wrong with photographing your food simply for the way it looks? Irrelevant to taste or culture, when food is infused with the richest of colors or the presentation is painfully exquisite, the plate before you becomes nothing less than art. If my enchiladas in Baja, Mexico are served to me with the red, white, and green sauces in the form of a Mexican flag, that deserves two seconds of my time.

So yes, I am one of those people who take photos of their food, my lust for classic and curious cuisine a patch I will wear proudly via my zoom and macro lens until I am happy and hopelessly stuffed.

New photography book on food and travel profiles meals around the world

There are a few key things that unite mankind, one of which is the need to eat. Whether the act itself is one of indulgence or subsistence is largely a cultural and geographic, and not just economic, issue. It’s this dichotomy that forms the theme for a fascinating new addition to the food and travel book genre.

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets
is the work of photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith d’Aluisio. The duo traveled to 30 countries to profile 80 vastly different people and the “food that fuels them over the course of a single day.” Each profile features extreme examples of the subject’s diet and caloric intake, rather than a daily average, and provides a window into world foods we might not otherwise be aware of.

The authors also note on their website, “While we have been diligent about providing cultural context and geographic relevance in each of our stories, the people profiled represent only themselves and no one person, or even five, can represent an entire country. Please use this work to further your exploration and understanding of the world.”

Profiles include a Maasai herder in an extreme drought in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, a Bangladeshi seamstress, a Latvian beekeeper, a Minnesotan teen who works in a mall, a Mexican rancher, and a Tennessee man who is a candidate for obesity surgery.

You can see a slideshow of sixteen of the book’s subjects on Time’s website, here.