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Cows in Bolivia | © oscarwcastillo/pixabay
Cows in Bolivia | © oscarwcastillo/pixabay
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Traditional Foods You Might Think Twice About Trying in Bolivia

Picture of Harry Stewart
Updated: 31 March 2017
You might have already read about some of Bolivia’s great national dishes or its excellent street food, which is all well and good. However, as the most indigenous country in South America, Bolivians eat some pretty weird stuff. Let’s go on a culinary journey through some of the Bolivian foods that you probably won’t want to try on your next visit to the country.

Tripa

Tripa (Tripe) is a popular street food throughout the Andes, costing as little as 5BOB (US$0.70) per serving. The dish consists of cow stomach lining smothered in excessive amounts of spicy peanut sauce to give it some flavor. It’s super chewy and while not overly offensive, not that great either.

Aji de Lengua

Nothing goes to waste in Bolivia, certainly not the delicious tongue of a cow. Aji de Lengua has a chewy and slightly slimy texture, with accompaniments of plain rice, bland salad and plenty of bitter chuño (freeze-dried potato),

Aji de Panza

Pretty much the same as Aji de Lengua but with stomach rather than tongue. The stomach is predictably chewy and flavorless while the sides don’t add anything special to the meal.

Ispi

These are tiny little finger-sized fish caught in their millions in Lake Titicaca. They are traditionally deep fried and eaten whole – eye balls, bones and all. Those looking to try some seafood at the lake should definitely opt for the local trout instead, which is nothing short of amazing.

Fish farm on Lake Titicaca | © Christopher Walker/wikipedia
Fish farm on Lake Titicaca | © Christopher Walker/wikipedia

Cuy

Your favorite childhood pet is on the menu in central Bolivia at just a few dollars a plate. The dish is basically an entire roasted Guinea pig which stares at you in horror as you pick its tiny body apart. It’s actually pretty tasty, similar to chicken, but takes hours to eat because there are so many teeny little bones to contend with.

Caldo de Cardón

A popular hangover remedy throughout the Bolivian Andes, Caldo de Caldón consists of a boiled bull penis served in a frothy soup. It really does look like a penis too, which makes it all the more off putting. Might stick to the usual bacon and eggs for the hangover.

Frog Smoothies

A popular drink in neighboring Peru, rumor has it that frog smoothies can also be found in El Alto’s Sunday market. The frog is slaughtered and skinned before being thrown into a blender and whisked into an inviting pale green smoothie. They are said to cure anything from low sex drive, to stress and asthma, although there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Cerebro de Mono

Only served deep in the Amazon basin, villagers of the remote Beni Department are said to offer their guests a nourishing meal of monkey brains to mark special occasions. It’s hard to say if they eat them straight out of the skull like on Indian Jones, although that would be preferable, obviously.

Please don't eat me | © Stolz, Gary M./Wikipedia
Please don’t eat me | © Stolz, Gary M./Wikipedia

Rostro Asado

A specialty of carnaval in Oruro, Rostro Asado means barbecued face in English, and that’s pretty much what you get. An entire sheep’s head is roasted with a blowtorch-like device, wool and all, until it’s nice and tender. The diner then delicately shaves bits of the cheeks, eyes and nose and gobbles them down with gusto. It’s said to be a great hangover cure after excessive carnaval celebrations. Once again, bacon and eggs, please.

This is an Icelandic equivlant, but you get the point | © Schneelocke/Wikipedia
This is an Icelandic equivalent, but you get the point | © Schneelocke/Wikipedia