Food in Cochabamba

Some of you have been asking what we eat in Bolivia. A lot and rather unhealthy, I always answered.

Now there is a video to illustrate what I meant with that. Cochabamba is known as the culinary capital of Bolivia, but it may well also be the capital of diabetes.

A lunch menu at a Bolivian restaurant (soup, main course, maybe a dessert, and a bottle of cola) costs around 3 dollars. No surprise then that I hardly cook myself. Obviously there are restaurants catering to tourists (or snobs) which are more expensive, but I prefer the small restaurants that suddenly open up everywhere around lunch time. Sometimes it is only someone’s garden or garage with a few tables and plastic chairs. There will be a sign in the street advertising the menu of the day. You can’t get anything else, there will be the same food on every table.

At night, chefs are popping up at every street corner, putting up a grill or a gas stove or pulling a huge pot of soup on four wheels behind tem. Each of them too has only one specialty, with some of these small businesses preparing and selling it at the same street corner for years. For example, close to my home, at the corner of America/Bolivar, you can get trancapechos (you see them from minute 2:45 in the video on) as long as they have enough bread, burgers and eggs, sometimes until after midnight. Because there is only one dish, you simply order by mentioning the number of huge burgers which you want. Uno is absolutely sufficient, and for 1.50 dollars you will get full. I often pass by that stall after my late-night run in Abraham-Lincoln-Park.

Trancapecho street

Interestingly to someone from Germany, Paulaner beer is very popular. There is even a “Paulaner Fan-Shop“ in Cochabamba, where you can buy beer mugs. For those who prefer the beer from northern Germany, there is “Bierhaus Dortmund“.

Between all the unhealthy options, I have finally found one vegetarian restaurant.

(Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Artikels.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Bolivia, Food, Travel, Video Blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Food in Cochabamba

  1. Pingback: Essen in Cochabamba | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Marcelo says:

    I really appreciate how a foreig guy describes my country and specially my city. I feel really proud that you appreciate not only the city buy also our customs and traditions.
    If one day you feel like having a lunch/dinner with a native don’t doubt to tell me. I would feel glad to share with someone who appreciate Bolivia.
    Greetings, Marcelo.

  3. Kassia Cunha says:

    I think that talk about the local food says a lot about the culture and tradition of the place. Thanks for you to give your view on this.

  4. Starling Sossa says:

    I have been reading your post and they are so good, is great to know that you like and enjoy of Bolivia in every way! there are many dishes in Bolivia that I am sure you would like, just have to taste them with a good Beer or in the case of Cochabamba you can drink a good chichita!
    Best Regards.

  5. Hendrik Larson says:

    On account of which information do you deem Bolivian or, for that matter, Latin American food as unhealthy? Concrete examples would be appreciated. Latin American cuisine, in contrast to European ones, boasts fruit diversity. Fresh fruit juices are ubiquitious. In Europe, it’s hard to come across a place that does not offer soda-based drinks. Meat is processed far more naturally and so are vegetables, and general staple food.

    • On account of the fat which is dripping from the trancapecho as I carry it home. On account of most restaurants not including a salad in their lunch menu. And just look at the mountains of meat in the video.
      When you talk about soda, Coca Cola is the national drink of Bolivia. Little children walk around with cola bottles. Sometimes when I ask for mineral water at a restaurant, they only have Coca Cola or Fanta instead.

      • Hendrik Larson says:

        Latin Americans would rather drink plain tap water instead of sparkling water, which is why you would rarely find it. Compare to the fact that in Germany, many restaurants do not offer tap water. Also, you haven’t taken off your German glasses to travel and that is why, when ordering, you think only of soda can’t even come to consider healthier beverages that would be readily served to you: limonada, tamarindo, mocochinchi, cebada, and many other natural juices. Bolivia’s government was about to ban Coca Cola and the population little seemed to be affected.
        If you visit modest restaurants with a single course you’ll obviously not find salads: those places are thought for people with little resources who wouldn’t afford eating out to get a plain salad. Normal restaurants do offer salads and, in fact, many offer a lunch menu where salad, soup, second course, dessert and beverage are all included.
        FInally, if you judge Bolivian’s healthiness of food based on a trancapecho, you should compare it to a German currywurst: nothing but 4 ingredients: oil, potatoes, bad-quality sausage and curry sauce.

      • It’s funny that you say I wear German glasses. I haven’t lived in Germany for 7 years.
        It’s even stranger that you claim to know what I think when ordering a drink.

        And Coca Cola really is ubiquitous in Bolivia. Most of the Christmas decoration in Cochabamba was sponsored by Coca Cola, many of the parks have huge banners of Coca Cola.

        Lastly, because you don’t believe people who actually live in Bolivia, take a look at this statistic, according to which Bolivian consumption of Coca Cola soft drinks was higher than in Canada, South Africa, the UK and Germany in 2012: http://www.statista.com/statistics/271156/per-capita-consumption-of-soft-drinks-of-the-coca-cola-company-by-country/ And Coca Cola themselves are very happy about the rapidly growing sales in Bolivia: http://www.la-razon.com/index.php?_url=/suplementos/financiero/consumo-Coca-Cola-Bolivia-litros-persona-Financiero_0_1985801522.html

        But if you live in Bolivia, I’ll gladly accept your invitation to a huge bowl of salad.

      • Hendrik Larson says:

        All the worse for you if despite all those years abroad, your cultural predisposition is still noticeable.
        And you’re missing the point and straying away. Are you now saying that food in Cochabamba is unhealthy because they drink too much coke??? Coca-Cola is unhealthy, and so are all kinds of sodas for that matter, but nobody pushes you to order them. You have, though a much larger variety of drinks to take your meals with in South America than in many places in Europe.

      • What cultural predisposition? The one for observing and for reading statistics?

        Medical research also shows that children in Cochabamba are becoming fatter and fatter: http://www.nutricionhospitalaria.com/pdf/6881.pdf

      • Hendrik Larson says:

        This cultural predisposition: “…Sometimes when I ask for mineral water at a restaurant, they only have Coca Cola or Fanta instead.”: To consider only sodas, or mineral water, as beverage options and no other local products.

        Children over there might be turning fatter and fatter, but that would mean the food they ingest is unbalanced; probably due to the fact that unhealthy food is cheaper, more easily accessible or due to many other reasons. But that doesn’t make the entirety of Bolivian food unhealthy.

        Cultural predisposition to oversee that social structures are far more complex and social differences far larger than elsewhere so that generalizations or extrapolations do not easily sum up the bigger picture.

      • So when can we meet for that salad?

  6. Paulina is one of the few European beers imported here in large quantities. Sadly, it’s priced out of reach of most folks, including myself.

    The food in Cocha is said to be the best in Bolivia. Those late night snacks dripping in fat aren’t so good for the waistline however!

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