Cochabamba, home to 1,000,000 Cochabambinos, is the culinary center of Bolivia. It is said that people here live to eat, and do not eat to live. It is also home to Bolivia’s best recent metal band – Bestial Holocaust, whose guitarist, Cesar, hosted us in his home for a week. We basically only slept, ate, and drank beer. It was like a sweet, sweet vacation.
Cochabamba is made like many other South American cities; it is located in some sort of valley surrounded by mountains. Its climate is very nice, as its elevation is only 2700 meters above sea. A bit like Sucre, but more up north so it’s warmer. In fact, they call it the city of “Eternal Spring”, like Medellin (Colombia!) Tons of fruits grow in trees in the street, which you could pick for free. Cesar had Lemon, Mandarin, Apples, Grenadine and Maracuya trees at his place.
There were three adorable dogs living at Cesar’s place. Negra, Chica and Ardilla greeting us day and night, and were always there to play, fight or just give us a nice lively presence.
In the beginning of the week, Cesar, Sonia (Bestial Holocaust vocalist), François and myself went to the best place in Bolivia to eat pastel de queso (some sort of cheese empanada) and drink api. This was definitely one of the best restaurants we’ve been here – it was so delicious (and greasy!)
We also ate many other traditional meals:
Our friend Cesar is a dentist, so we took advantage of it by getting our teeth cleaned. It’s was well deserved after so much junk food haha
Everyday, when we wanted to go downtown, we were walking beside a little ghetto with colourful tents. I was wondering what the hell they were, until I asked… it’s apparently a group of gypsies that live there! One of them wanted to read my future or something. It was weird!
Like you see, we didn’t do too much in Cochabamba haha! Before we left, our friends organised a small departure party with a really killer bbq. It was really good, as it had many different ingredients and all:
Our next destinations are Copacabana (not the Brazilian one of course!) and Isla del Sol… and then hopefully cross the border to Peru if it opens up. And here is a little gift; a recipe of the mythical Sopa de Mani!
Sopa de Mani
- 6 cups beef stock
- 1 cup raw peanuts without shells
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, diced OR 6 garlic cloves, sliced in two
- Misc vegetables (2 carrots cut in small pieces, 2 celery sticks cut in small pieces, ½ cup green beans cut in small pieces… etc)
- ½ cup green peas (frozen if possible)
- Two raw chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- ¼ raw rice
- 1 potato, cut in juliennes (long and thin pieces), fried in canola/sunflower or peanut oil ‘till crisp (you can replace by using potato sticks or not put any at all)
- Parsley, minced (to taste)
- Hot pepper flakes (optional)
Cook the raw peanuts in beef stock until soft, and then put in blender in order to get a nice cream texture. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat and stir in the onion and veggies. Cook slowly until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas let cook slowly another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in the peanut cream, and the rice, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook without stirring for 20 minutes. Add chicken pieces, and then cook for another 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, season the soup with salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with the crisp fried potatoes and a sprinkling of minced parsley.
And here is a Bestial Holocaust song for the cursed ones! Their new album is recorded and will be coming out on Iron Bonehead in the coming months, hopefully.