November 2012

A taste of Cochabamba city


As a mission of getting to know the gastronomic world of Cochabamba city, a bunch of young and enthusiastic people from di•erent parts of the world visit some of the most wellknown but also some unknown restaurants, cafés and bars in Cochabamba. Out of it there will come several di•erent and interesting reviews, which you can follow each month here in the Cochabanner.

By: Marie Cathrine Ettrup
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Ryde – Denmark


The five dishes: from the left at the top it is “Pasticio de Lasagne”, “Enchiladas Mexicanas” and “Spaghetti Casablanca”. From left in the bottom it is “Pizza Diavola” and “Spaghetti in Verde”.
Photo: Marie Cathrine Ettrup

Casablanca

At first the café and restaurant, which shares its name with the classical American movie from 1942, gives the impression of that this is a cozy and pleasant place to be. The music is a mix of jazz and old American feel good music, which makes you relax and feel like you just stepped into an American restaurant in the 60’s. On the walls you find notes and black and white pictures of former American actors. The colours are held in a deep, dark and cozy brown and the old lamps, which slightly give a little orange-brown light, make the atmosphere in the restaurant perfect for a night out with some good friends. On some of the tables there are painted chessboards and around the restaurant three tables have a game of chess going.

From the menu we chose five more or less different dishes: the lasagne, two spaghettis, enchiladas Mexicanas and a pizza. But as you will see for yourself, when you visit this evidently international restaurant, you can get everything from American, French, Italian and continental breakfast, salads and sandwiches, omelettes, pizzas and Italian pastas. If you just want a drink, Casablanca offers the most. By a look around the restaurant it is clear, that the Cochabambinos visit Casablanca for different reasons. Some are eating, some are playing chess with a cup of coffee in the hand and most of them are here for a drink or two with some good, close friends. This specific Monday only five tables besides ours are eating.

When the food is served twelve pair of eyes looks hungry on the delicious looking dishes. Around the table, this Monday evening, are two German girls, one German guy, two girls from Denmark and one guy from France. Everyone is from Europe and is volunteering in Cochabamba. Right away the ‘Enchiladas Mexicanas’ is on everyone’s plates and for a while sounds like “mmh” and “yummie” are the only noise around the round table. “I am in love with this one. I love the cheese, the meat and the avocado,” Diana, one of the German girls, says emotionally. “I love the avocado and the whole taste of the enchilada is great,” the Danish girl, Marie, supplies and Laura, the other girl from Denmark, says: “Nice, fat and creamy. Because of the avocado and yellow cheese it is good, but it needs some more spice”. The German guy, Jonas, agrees: “It does not taste that Mexican, but it is very good. I do not know how to describe it – it is a delicious dish.” “It is better than the Mexican food I have had in Germany. And the yellow cheese is muy bueno” Karin, the second girl from Germany, ends the expressions of feelings about the enchiladas.


Diana eating the lasagne – it is very good
Photo: Marie Cathrine Ettrup

asablanca’ and the vegetarian dish ‘Spaghetti in Verde’ become attacked by numerous forks and knives. Antoine, the guy from France, sits with ‘Spaghetti Casablanca’ in his mouth and says: “this one is good”. “Simple but tasteful” Marie agrees. “It reminds me of my favourite Italian restaurant in my hometown” Karin says with dreamy eyes. Apparently the ‘Spaghetti in Verde’ is not as popular, as Diana says: “I love the olives on the vegetarian spaghetti, but there is too much garlic in it” and Laura adds: “I am not that big of a spaghetti fan, but the vegetarian one is a bit boring, so I would rather have the spaghetti Casablanca than the vegetarian one”.

Apparently the tone of the comments changes, when it is the lasagne’s turn to be tasted critically. The more negative ones come from Marie, who says: “I think it tastes too much of tomato and not enough of lasagne. It can use some carrots” and Karin says: “less meat - more tomato and salsa”. It is not easy to make every taste bud happy. Some that are very happy is Diana’s. She says: “besides that my mother makes the best lasagne in the world, this is really good”, and Jonas agrees: “This lasagne is great: the white sauce is perfect, tomato is missing, it is very soft, the cheese is good and the meat is perfect”. Though the French are known for their great thoughts about cheese, Antoine slips out that: “the meat is good, but there is too much cheese on it”. It is not easy to make everyone happy, when it comes to such a beloved dish as lasagne.

Suddenly there are no longer only six volunteers around the table. Apparently a cat has decided to join the group of young Europeans. Whether it is a housecat, which always are at the restaurant to somehow please the guests or if it simply just wants some international food, is hard to say. Seven it is, around the table, when the last dish standing is not going to stand anymore. “Casablanca is the perfect place to go, when you have a hangover - because of all that fat” Laura exclaims, with her first real look at the pizza. “It is hard to cut and there is more cheese than bread,” Diana complains, when she tries to taste it. “It is dry and there is no tomato on it. A pizza without tomato? What?! There is always tomato on a pizza!” Jonas complains, too. “The sausage is very good though,” Laura says while tasting and Marie finds that: “it is dry and there is too much cheese on it”. Finally the French guy, Antoine, tells how it is with food: “this pizza is too dry. Too fat is not a problem, but too dry is”.


Antoine eating the pizza – it could have been better
Photo: Marie Cathrine Ettrup

Despite of the more or less not so positive tone about the last dish, there are not many leftovers for the cat. All in all the food has been good, but the enchiladas have been the best dish with 4 and a half star out of five possible:

“The food is not bad, but could have used less cheese. The music and noise are not too loud and that means that you can talk here, which is a huge plus” Antoine summarizes the evening. “Good but normal restaurant food, a lot of dishes to choose from and good with the international atmosphere” Laura adds. Casablanca is definitely worth a visit. If not to eat one of the many international dishes for only about 30 bolivianos, then to grab a cup of coffee, fresh juice or a drink with some of your friends. The atmosphere has to be experienced. Every one of the group of Europeans will say a very thank you, Casablanca, for a nice and cozy evening.

“Pasticio de Lasagne”

“Spaghetti in Verde”

“Spaghetti Casablanca”

“Enchiladas Mexicanas”

“Pizza Diavola”

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