Oruro Stories and Tips

Sheraton Restaurant

Street Posters Photo, La Paz, Bolivia

Located in front of the bus terminal, the Sheraton Restaurant is handy and offers good meals. In Bolivia that means they serve the same dishes as everybody else but that they use better ingredients and serve larger quantities. The prices here are roughly twice the ones at regular restaurants, but even then few dishes cross the three dollars mark. The dishes are huge and sharing them between two persons seems to be the only chance of finishing them.

Pique (Pee-kae) Macho is one of the most elusive dishes in the Bolivian cuisine. It has a chauvinistic name that no local was able to explain it satisfactorily to me. It seems to be different in every restaurant serving it; however, in the carbohydrates ultra-rich local cuisine this is one of the only two leaner dishes (the other one is called Plato Paceño). To allow for the differences among the different establishments, the pique can be described as a dish including a lot of bits of everything.

On the proteins angle it provides small bites of cooked or fried beef, slices of a local white cheese and sometimes the extra-big variety of fava-beans. The fats are provided by the ubiquitous vegetable oil. Carbohydrates appear mainly in the form of French fries decorating the top of the dish. The best part of this dish is the generous quantities of vegetables – cooked and fresh – it includes; that is a rare treat in Bolivia. Olives sometimes adorn the generous portions; however, they are prepared here with chemical vinegar and have an unpleasant residual taste.

The cooked parts of the dish are served hot, while the fresh parts are kept cold. This trivial point is of importance here since in the cold Altiplano everything gets cold very quickly. The dish would not freeze on the plate but it would get unpleasant.

This dish offers the opportunity to touch a delicate issue of the local culture. The pique is usually accompanied by beer and Bolivia suffers of an alcoholism problem. Most people would assume that if ordering a beer, the customer will continue drinking until the next sunrise. Hence, if dining with a local, it should be clarified that one beer is the limit. The best advice is to avoid the whole scene by trying one of the excellent juices prepared from tropical fruits; the unusual maracuya is recommended.

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