South America Living

Traditional Breakfast Foods in Bolivia

Typical Sign in Cafeteria in a Mercado Central in Bolivia

When visiting Bolivia, if you have a restaurant attached to your hotel or hostal most likely you will be offered in the morning a continental-style breakfast with bread, jam, butter, tea or coffee as well as an “Americano” version adding in the choice of fried or scrambled eggs.

If you would like to see what Bolivianos usually eat for ‘desayuno’ (breakfast in English) head to the cafeteria at the local market (few towns in Bolivia do not have one!). There it is a much more colorful affair with sometimes the hardest decision picking which stand headed by a sweet (usually elderly) lady calling out “cafe, cafe con leche” or “tengo frites” while gesturing for you to come sit at their table… to bless with your business.

Markets start seeing the light of day around 6:30 a.m. and are open for business by 7 a.m. – excellent news for early risers.

A Pot of Api - Hot and Ready To Be Served

Restaurants (and most hotels/hostels) don’t begin serving breakfast until 8 a.m. or later. They also often have the best cup of coffee in town – thick, black syrupy goodness – while others serve up a packet of Nescafe or other instant brand (ick).

In addition to cafe, cafe con leche (coffee with milk), tea and mate on the menu, you will be able to enjoy:

Empanadas Frites (fried empanadas in English) – when you hear the sizzle coming from the skillet this is what is most likely going on… flour-based dough being fried in greese to serve up hot and dripping on a plate for you!

Buñuelos (donuts in English) – there are always empanadas frites for you to consume but in some markets you will be lucky to have an additional carbo-fix at your disposal – buñuelos served with melted miel (honey in English). Yum!

Donuts with Melted Honey (Buñuelos con Miel in Spanish)

Api Morado or Blanco (purple or white api in English) – this is the purple concoction you will see folks drinking, sometimes swirled tan and purple (api morado and api blanco mixed together).

Api is a hot drink made from ground purple or white corn mixed with water, cinnamon. pineapple (or oranges), sugar and cloves.

Pan with Queso (bread with cheese in English) – just what it sounds like… a fresh bread roll with a chunk of local, homemade cheese.

Want to see a few markets in Bolivia up close & personal with photographs, descriptions and videos? Check out these South America Living pages:

Markets in Tupiza, Bolivia
Markets in Sucre, Bolivia
YouTube Video of Main Farmer’s Market in Sucre
YouTube Video of Main Market – Mercado Gilduran – in Tupiza

A Plate of Puffed-up Fried Empanadas

Photographs by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.

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