Sucre, Bolivia was a welcome change from La Paz. The city is beautiful and historically significant, the people friendly, the food excellent, and the 9,800 feet of altitude nowhere near as cruel as in Bolivia’s capital.
Although Sucre offers much in the way of food, chorizo is ubiquitous. You can find great chorizo in markets, restaurants, public squares, everywhere.
In addition to the 24/7 sausage party, Sucre is distinguished by its white colonial architecture and its seminal role in the
founding of Bolivia. Simon Bolivar, who liberated much of South America from Spain, signed the Bolivian constitution here in 1826, forming the independent nation. Ironically, Bolivar’s opponents pejoratively nicknamed him ‘el chorizo’. If you ask me, this speaks far worse about the opposition. What kind of person could possibly consider sausage a bad thing? Okay Bolivar did want to become president for life of Gran Colombia, the sovereign country he had previously founded (it encompassed modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil). He also proclaimed himself dictator in response to political unrest from the unruly opposition—who we already know didn’t like chorizo, so probably a good call. Although the tension over federalism versus centralism almost got Bolivar assassinated, ended his dream of a unified South America, and makes for important history, you my dear reader are here for the food. Enough about ‘el chorizo, let’s talk sausage.
It took about 15 minutes to find an amazing meal in Sucre. A big plate of grilled sausage (of course), marinated beef kebab, barbecued potatoes, and of course cow heart. I’ll freely admit to not ordering the cow heart. Paty, the grill-master forced it upon me to her amusement and my feeble protests. I actually liked the corazon, except for the part when our grill-master said it was raw, which it wasn’t but my reaction was worth the joke—for her. But the corazon was very lean, sliced thinly, and had a nice spicy and lemony marinade. It was just like a normal cut of beef, except the texture was a bit different.
To wash it down, I had an amazing drink of liquefied peanuts. It was rich and nutty, but also subtle, I didn’t guess that it was peanut until they told me. The name of the drink was mani, which is the word they use for peanut . The taste is distinctive, and I swear Bolivian peanuts have a richer flavor than the ones we get way up north.
Next stops on the sausage-stravaganza were two locations owned by 7 Lunares, a local institution. At the first, a small restaurant on a narrow but busy thoroughfare, I had a nice crispy sausage sandwich with a delicious local aji (pepper) sauce. I remarked how good the pepper was, and the proprietor responded ‘yes, it’s fantastic. Much better than in Peru.’ I laughed, and she looked at me sternly, and repeated herself without the faintest hint of humor, ‘No its, much better than in Peru.’ Clearly this was not laughing matter. I agreed this time without hint of a smile, and she nodded while walking away. “Si, mucha mejor que en Peru.
The main market was the highlight. 7 Lunares have a booth there, and offer an array of cured meats that were just awesome. They were generous with samples, and I ordered a small chorizo sandwich, and a mixto sandwich of slow cooked, folded pork, and head cheese (pulled pig face). The sandwich was liberally garnished, with marinated grilled onions, and peppers, amazing aji, avocado, and mayo. Again, wow.
But there’s so much more than just sausage. In upcoming posts, we’ll talk more about other grilled meat, fruit juice galore, markets, and Bolivia’s surprising micro-brew scene, which is responsible for creating beer that is both innovative and delicious.