Wherever you go in the world the food is sure to be a big part of the travel experience. In the case of Bolivia, there are plenty of different and interesting things for you to try throughout the day.
Breakfast: A Bag of Soup
I have eaten breakfast in the homes of a few different locals and most seem to take tea or coffee with bread. If your hotel provides breakfast then it is probably going to be along these lines too. However, if your hotel doesn’t serve breakfast then it can be really difficult to find a restaurant in which to eat at this time of day. The majority of Bolivians who eat outside first thing in the morning seem to go for proper meals rather than coffee and toast and that kind of thing. If you head down to your local food market at 7 or 8am you will probably find people wolfing down plates of filling food. Soup is also popular at this time of day and sometimes you will see it served as a takeaway breakfast in a transparent plastic bag. I have no idea how this is then eaten. Maybe they drink it straight from the bag with a straw?
Mid Morning Snack: Empanadas
The culinary highlight of the day comes between 9 and 10 am. This is when a lot of locals will head out for an empanada. These are delicious little meat filled pastries which are brilliant at getting you through until lunchtime. You will find them all over the country (and in other parts of Latin America) but my favourites are in Tarija, where they are also called salteñas. If you try empanadas in La Paz or Potosi you might find them to be quite spicy and made with some strangely sweet dough. In Santa Cruz they are often blooming big efforts which put you off your lunch if you eat more than one of them.
Lunch: A Fixed Almuerzo
Anyone travelling on a tight budget will love how cheap it is to eat in Bolivia. The most filling meal of the day is lunch. This is called almuerzo and is often served as a fixed price meal from a set menu. The food markets are usually the cheapest places to eat almuerzo but even smart looking restaurants can provide great value at this time of day. La Paz seemed especially cheap in this respect but you need to remember that the less you pay the more chance you have of ending up with an inedible mystery meat stinker. An almuerzo starts with soup and sopa de mani (peanut soup) is usually the best bet. The main dish can be just about anything and you might get a decent dessert and a drink as well.
Dinner: Out on the Street
It seems common to eat fairly lightly in the evenings. For a traveller who is watching their cash this probably means street food. You will find kiosks and food trolleys all over the country and it is a cheap and interesting way to eat. Global favourites like pizza, fried chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers are easily found here. Slightly more interesting is salchipapas, which is just chopped up sausage fried with potatoes or chips. Actually, in some places it can be tough to find anything other than the things I just mentioned after dark, unless you want to pay for a meal in a fancy restaurant aimed at tourists. As with everywhere else in the world, eating in the street here puts you into close contact with the locals and is exciting but if you have a delicate stomach it could leave you regretting it in the morning.