(Fine Dining Lovers, July 2023) It might take time to acclimatise to elevated La Paz, Bolivia, the highest capital city in the world, located 3,625 metres above sea level but once you’ve adapted, the food scene is bursting with Andean highland, valley and Amazonian flavours. From vegan fine dining to tasty street food treats and market stands, Bolivian chef Marsia Taha, who leads the team at Gustu, ranked 45 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, shares some of the places she loves to eat at in her home city.
“I love going to the Mercado Rodríguez market to eat wallake, a fish soup made with k’oa, an Andean mint [known as muña in Peru]. It’s a traditional breakfast for market workers, and I go to Doña Rogelia’s, where it’s only served between 5:30am and 9am. After that, I like to wander around La Paz’s most colourful market. It’s the city’s largest food supplier and every morning at dawn, thousands of caseras (buyers and sellers) set up their stalls with products that have just come in from the valleys and tropics, all the best suppliers in Bolivia. I love seeing the seasonal diversity, vegetables, fruits, tubers, chilli peppers and proteins that the caseras offer, and talking to them about what they have. In order to buy any product at the market, you have to have established a relationship with the caseras; they buy and sell, and part of the tradition is to greet each other and have a chat, about the weather, what’s going on in the country and about the products. That dialogue forms part of the market ritual, which makes it special and not just a transaction.”
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