Cochabamba notes

It is very charming here, but no one can tell me exactly what they export.  Grain is a thing of the past.  There are many universities in town.  Trees, birds, and flowers are all first-rate.

I feel like I had never tasted a green pepper before.  For silpancho, go to Palacio del Silpancho.  The only item on the menu is…silpancho.  I also recommend the street tamales with corn and cheese and the street food more generally, most of all at the comedores at the market 25 de Mayo.  The “nice” restaurants are good and cheap, but not materially better than the Bolivian food you get in Falls Church, Virginia.   Viva Vinto, about forty minutes out of town, served the best meal of my trip, the taxi will wait for very little money.  Cochabamba provides one of the world’s best culinary micro-tours, although it requires a working knowledge of Spanish.

You can buy a quality Andean sweater for $12.  The potatoes are the best I have eaten, ever, both purple and otherwise.

Quechua hats are not like Aymara hats.

People smile much more in Santa Cruz.  The hotel electrical sockets use a different form here, and it would not be hard to convince somebody they were two different countries.

Comments

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I've not been to Bolivia, but it appears to be a very complex country for its population size.

'It is very charming here, but no one can tell me exactly what they export.'

Sounds like a particularly apt description of Northern Virginia, actually.

Assholes... to Germany.

Outstanding.

I wouild hazard that you had new, fresh, potatoes. Available to any gardener but not in any market. (My grandmother grew the best potatoes I ever had, in West Covina.)

Surely any food enthusiast would grow his own potatoes? There's something puzzling here.

What do you people do to celebrate the 200th anniversary of burning poor Dolly Madison's house? Bake kidney pie? Swallow Scotch Eggs?

I hasten to add, those delectables have been ordered by my Brit tourist neighbors here at Ye Olde Kings Head. (Bonus question: why do Brit tourists fly across the planet to visit British pubs?).

As he wanders further into Bolivia, he sounds more like a 1980s DeLillo novel.

Outstanding. The comments on this post are really good so far.

It's interesting that so few restaurants specialize in only one dish. Why is that? Chick-Fil-A is close to being a fast-food example. My grandparents-in-law ran a restaurant in Kaeson that sold only bone soup. But we tend to think best of restaurants with highly diverse dishes, even though it makes sense that the chefs, at any level, would be worse because they don't specialize.

My guess would be some form of individual veto. You have a group of 5 people, 4 of whom want the special item. One person doesn't. The group ends up not going to that restaurant.

I think a specialist restaurant is more likely to cater to individual diners. I would say that the quintessential american specialist restaurant is the hot dog stand.

Now, though, it's food trucks. Which are a great innovation.

What did you eat at Villa Vinto that was so good?

Don't forget plenty of saltenhas (spicy, extra spicy and sweet)--those will be strictly better that the ones from Virginia.
And Pique also. Hopefully you have discovered Taquinha, a better bear than most major brands in the US.

A town in the Cochabamba department called Aiquile is known for having lots of luthiers per capita and for exporting charangos.

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