Food corner

“There is no sauce in the world like hunger.”

Miguel de Cervantes

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Best of Bolivia

Bolivia is hardly a gastronomic paradise.

I was there almost a month and towards the end, following upset bowels and a rather horrendous allergy, I have to admit to being a bad tourist – avoiding street food and seeking out Western fare.

Still, I had several good meals worth sharing but I reckon I can get through them quite quickly. I am now in Peru and still have much to say about Argentina so I thought I would whizz through Bolivia in two posts – best and worst of – try to keep up in Peru and then catch up on Argentina when I am back in the UK.

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Bad luck in Bolivia, a rant

This has nada to do with food, well very little, but I feel like having a rant and this is my forum, ok? If you are a happy go lucky kind of person, glass half full, who never whinges or whines then I suggest you stop reading now. I could look on the positive side of life – I am travelling one of the most beautiful continents on earth, I have no job to tie me down, the beer is cheap, the food is cheaper and the sun is shining. But as it is I feel like having a good moan, indeed it is one of my favourite past times. If you share this trait, read on! And, if the feeling takes you, have a rant of your own the comment section. It´s your forum, ok?

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Fine wines and fab entrees in Mendoza

I have to admit to having been a little dishonest.

In the last week or so I have received several emails from friends and family sharing their experiences of Iguazú falls  and asking me how I am enjoying Córdoba (very much, I would have thought that was obvious).

The internet connection is so slow here that each post I have written has taken at least 4 hours, at least 3 of those merely waiting for the photos to upload. As you might imagine this takes a significant chunk out of a day in a new place and as such I am rather behind; twelve towns and one border in fact.

Fortunately, several of these towns are forgettable which narrows down the catch up a little and I am now in Bolivia, where both the food and the internet connection are inferior to Argentina so I should have less to say while I am here. However, there are still several important meals in Argentina to tell you about and I shall do my best to do so rápidamente, as they say here.

Mendoza was perhaps the Argentine highlight. I say “perhaps” because the best restaurant I visited was in Salta (more on that down the track), but Mendoza had the best food overall. If you ever visit Mendoza I highly recommend getting hold of a free copy of Wine Republic magazine or having a look at their website which has great recommendations for places to eat and drink. Indeed every restaurant I ate in was listed in the edition I picked up and there were many more I would have liked to try given the time.

My first day in Mendoza was all blue skies and winter sun, warm enough to sit outside in a light sweater. Enticed by the promise of a leafy courtyard I went in search of Anna Bistro.

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Empanadas that make you open your legs in Córdoba

It is official, I am a strumpet! I have been opening my legs all over Córdoba for the meatiest, juiciest, most tempting and delicious empanadas that Argentina has to give. Sweet or salty, baked or fried – I’ll take ’em anyway they come or all at once if the mood takes me.

For those of you who did not read my post on BA – where I was keeping my legs firmly shut – or who did but were not curious enough about this provocative choice of words to click on the link, Chris Moss writes that a chef once told him “that a good meat empanada always makes a diner open his or her legs. The reason: because the juice should drip out when you sink your teeth in.”

I have since been told that the secret to a juicy empanada is to make the filling with lard, let it cool so that the lard sets and then fill the pastry with the cold mixture. If the filling is cold it will be easy to handle and won’t run everywhere, but when the empanada is cooked the lard will melt and cause this sort of a mess on your plate:

(or between your legs)

So if Córdoba has the best empanadas, where are the best of the best? I met up with some Córdobeses, Nati and Mariano, who I met through couchsurfing and they took me to one of Nati’s favourite local restaurants for regional cuisine.

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Things are looking up in Puerto Iguazú

Little Puerto Iguazú sits at the confluence of the Ríos Paraná and Iguazú and looks across to Brazil and Paraguay. It doesn’t really feel like Argentina any more. There’s no center and little feeling of community – everyone is here to see the falls or to make a buck out of them.

This is the inspiring introduction to the Lonely Planet Argentina’s chapter on Puerto Iguazú so, as you might imagine, I was not expecting great things on the food front. Well, one should never judge a book by its cover, so they say. Or perhaps more fittingly in this case, one should never judge a town by a book. Actually if I had bothered to read beyond this rather offputting introduction I would have discovered, as I have just now, that it later says that there are “many excellent places to stay and eat.

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