Bolivian cuisine stems from the combination of Spanish cuisine with indigenous ingredients and Aymara traditions, among others, with later influences from Germans, Italians, French, and Arabs due to the arrival of immigrants from those countries. The traditional staples of Bolivian cuisine are corn, potatoes, quinoa and beans. These ingredients have been combined with a number of staples brought by the Spanish, such as rice, wheat, and meat, including beef, pork, and chicken.
Bolivian cuisine differs by geographical locations. In Western Bolivia in the Altiplano, due to the high, cold climate cuisine tends to use spices, whereas in the lowlands of Bolivia in the more Amazonian regions dishes consist of products abundant in the region: fruits, vegetables, fish and yuca.
Bolivian National Dishes
A salteña is a type of baked empanada from Bolivia.
Salteñas are savory pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken mixed in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce containing olives, raisins and potatoes. Vegetarian salteñas are sometimes available at certain restaurants.
Typically salteñas can be found in any town or city throughout the country, but each area has its variations; Cochabamba and Sucre claim to have the best version of this snack, and many will go out of their way to try the variation from Potosí. In La Paz, it is a tradition to enjoy salteñas as a mid-morning snack, although vendors often start selling salteñas very early in the morning. The pastries are sold anywhere from 7am to noon; most vendors sell out by mid-morning.
Silpancho (original Quechua word: Sillp’anchu) is a typical, popular Bolivian food from the city of Cochabamba. When prepared properly, this tends to be a large and filling meal laden with carbohydrates and fat. It consists of a base layer of rice, usually white, followed by a layer of boiled and sliced potatoes. Next, a thin layer of schnitzel-style meat is laid on top, followed by a layer of chopped tomato. In addition, onion, beet and parsley are mixed together and topped with either one or two fried eggs.
Variants including dicing and cooking the meat over the rice cooked instead of remaining in steak form. Another variant is to place pico de gallo on top of the eggs instead of parsley, onion and beets. Another variant marinates the meat using ingredients including soy sauce.
Silpancho can be found in a type of sandwich called “Trancapecho”, containing all the ingredients (even rice).