Issue - April 2008

April 2008

In this month's issue, read about how Yalo Cuellar began his career; experience and taste traditional family dishes with one of Cochabamba's families; Heather Dieguez tells us about Energética; Walter Sánchez and Luis Fernando Terrazas come back to us with yet more interesting tales of more...

April 2008


For four months I have enjoyed so many tasty meals in an extendedfamily-atmosphere. To encounter so much love, work and time in a meal every day has been a totally new experience!

Eva Biard
Volunteer - Projects Abroad
Saarbrücken - Germany

“Since the beginning of time the goddess Pachamama is filling the fields and men are gathering the fruits. In every era he transforms the fruits into divine food.”

* (Emilia Romero de Velasco/Carola Guttentag de Muzevich: Cocina Tradicional Boliviana, La Paz/Cbba 1988)

The geography and climate of Cochabamba result in extremely fertile land. The almost perfect conditions for agriculture yield a variety of products. The city is known for its culinary art and has been officially nominated as the gastronomic capital of Bolivia.

“What would you like to eat? What would you like me to prepare during your last days at home? What will we cook to welcome …?” are everyday questions here. Food is an important subject in a family in which ten to fifteen people between the ages of one and 85 congregate around the table everyday. Generally the women of the family prepare the meals. “La Maribel”, “la Silvia” , “la Florencia” y “la Anita” – all different ages – are responsible for planning, organizing and preparing the meals.

The two cooks, Florencia and Maribel, work by heart and memory, though sometimes they have a quick look in “Nuestras comidas” – written by the recently deceased Doña Nelly de Jordan, who lives on in this and other well-known cook books.* Silvia, the person responsible for welcoming every new volunteer at home, told me: “When I was 12 years old, I was given “Nuestras comidas” from Nelly de Jordan as a gift from my mother. She told me,“You will cook, I have to work.” From this day on, she was responsible for preparing the meals for eight family members.

During the week-ends there are plenty of family members and guests who assist with the meal preparations, gathering around “Mama Albina”, the mother of four generations, and listening to the cracking of vegetables while chatting about the niceties of bringing a meal to perfection.

It is interesting to participate in making a Saturday meal. Anita, the member of the family who spends half her time in Bolivia and the other half in Canada, puts EL CH´AJCHU on the menu, prepared by the experienced cook Florencia.


*Nelly de Jordan: Nuestras comidas, 8th Edition, Boliva 1997
(Kechua, the english translation could be “something sprinkled”)

for 8 people
- 8 cups of water
- ½ kilo of tender beef
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 white onion, roasted
- 8 big potatoes, peeled and divided in two
- 2 cups of chuño (freeze-dried potatoes), soaked, peeled, well washed
- 3 cups of green broad beans, peeled
- 2 cups of chopped onions (green leaves), well washed before cutting
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 2 tablespoons of red, grounded cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons of water or stock
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 fresh cheeses, each cut in 8 slices
- 4 hard boiled eggs, each cut in 8 slices
- ½ cup of white onions chopped in fine slices
- ½ cup peeled and finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 locoto (or red pepper), finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

1. Put 8 cups of water in a cooking pot on the fire. When it is lukewarm add the meat, cut into 8 slices, and salt. Before the water boils, add the white, roasted onion. Let everything cook for one hour.

2. Add the potatoes and then when the water is boiling, the chuño. After boiling again add the broad beans. Let them cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes become soft. Finally, add the chopped green onion leaves for a few minutes, just to get them smooth. Take the pot from the fire and drain the stock. Take the meat out and beat it flat without detaching and keep it warm.

3. Put the cayenne pepper and the oil in a little pan on the fire, with water and salt. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to avoid scorching, until it foams. Remove it from the fire and keep it warm.

4. Mix separately the white onion, tomato, locoto (or red pepper) and the salt.
Fill a large bowl with all the contents of the cooking pot.
Make sure the green onion leaves stay on top.
Over this put the flat beaten meat stripes.
Sprinkle the red grounded cayenne pepper over it.
Decorate the “mountain” with the cheese slices.
Do the same with the slices of hard boiled egg.
Cover everything with the uncooked sauce.
Garnish with parsley.

Buen Provecho!

In the afternoon Silvia directed the making of Humintas, a dish of stone-ground corn, cheese and aromatic ingredients wrapped in corn leaves. It is cooked on a bed of the already picked corncobs, covered lightly by more corn leaves. The grinding of the corn was performed by Alberto with great force, technical know-how and patience.


Ingredients for the dough
150 g butter
80 g powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon
of vanilla essence
250 g of sieved flour

Beat the butter with the sugar.
Add the vanilla essence and the egg yolks.
Incorporate the flour and knead
until you get a dough.
Let it rest for half an hour in the fridge.
Roll the dough out and put it
in a round baking-tray.
Bake it for 20 minutes until it becomes beige.
Ingredients for the filling:

egg yolks
3 big lemons
1 tin of sweet condensed milk

Beat the egg yolks with the juice
of the three lemons.
Mix it with the sweet condensed milk.
Put this over the prepared pastry.

Ingredients for the meringue-cover:
5 egg whites
12 tablespoons of sugar

Add sugar to the beaten egg whites
to produce a meringue.
Put it on top of the filling and bake until
the Meringue becomes golden.
Enjoy your pie!

The work was done with a big and heavy concave stone, called EL BATAN, already used by pre- Columbian cultures as a kind of mortar. Beginners have to be wary of sore muscles after only 10 minutes of working with it and will surely get splashed by the mash of the corn.

If you live in a house like this, you will surely miss the food if you leave Cochabamba for a while. Most volunteers who have travelled out of Bolivia for some weeks will tell you the same: We all missed the Bolivian food!

The appetizing galette de verduras and the delicious lemon pie prepared by the young cook, Maribel, can be recommended for people fancying vegetables and for those with a sweet tooth. The best moment is when the oven opens and you smell the aroma of the lemon pie.


Ingredients for the dough
1 ½ cup of sieved flour
½ tablespoon of sieved sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of butter
3 tablespoons of water

Mix the flour with the butter
until it becomes sandy.
Mix the water with the sugar
and salt and add it .
Mix and knead a pastry.
Put it in the fridge for half an hour.
Roll the dough out and put it
in a round baking tray.

Ingredients for the filling:
1 white onion
1 egg-plant
2 gloves of garlic
1 pepper
1 carrot
basil, salt & pepper as you like

Slice the egg-plants, add salt and let it rest for
20 minutes. Wash and cut them into stripes.
Cut all other ingredients into stripes as well.
Put olive oil in a pan and gently roast garlic
and onion until golden.
Add the rest of the ingredients
and roast shortly.
Put the filling in the middle of the pastry
and fold the angles right to the centre.
Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes at 180ºC.

Have a nice meal!

The nutritious refreshments, such as “refresco de naranja”, “refresco de piña”, and “ refresco de tumbo,” are typical, natural and healthy drinks. One delicious example is refresco de guayabas, fresh from the tree in the yard. You can enjoy watching the old rose pink juice of the Guayaba fruits running through the sieve.


1. Wash the guayabas and cut them into quarters

2. Water them a little and push them through a sieve

3. Add water and sugar. Ready to serve!

There is also a male member of the household who specializes in cooking tasty meals. Antonio likes to prepare Italian dishes to diversify the menu. Family and friends also appreciate his excellent cappuccinos. Personal experience has confirmed the saying that “Cochabambinos do not eat to live but live to eat” I would like to send you some flavours, tastes and colours but you will have to try them for yourself!

Inti K’anchay:
Lighting the Way for a Better Life

Everyday as we carry out our daily routines, whether it be flicking a light switch, checking our email or taking a hot shower, we take for granted the fact that without electricity, some of our most mundane tasks would be impossible. The extent to which we rely on electricity is made glaringly apparent during those panic stricken moments when we unexpectedly encounter a blackout...

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