Bolivia is a fascinating place. Why? Quinoa. In the United States, quinoa is very expensive. Buying an Apple Stand seems more reasonable than buying quinoa in the USA. In La Paz, it costs Bs. 18 per kilogram. In the US, It’s 14 dollars per kilogram, and in France, it’s 20 EUROS per kilogram. Let me say that again for the people in the back: per kilogram, it costs Bs. 18 in La Paz, Bs. 98.29 in the US of A, and Bs. 167.80 in Europe. Not cheap. That is why I enjoy quinoa to its fullest.
There aren’t many plates made from quinoa. The only ones I know of is quinoa salad and quinoa soup; that’s it. However, there is one more: pesque. Pesque is the oatmeal to quinoa. Cook quinoa, add milk, add (rallado) cheese, and boom, that’s pesque. It is a very popular food here in La Paz, and it tastes really good. Even my cat likes it (even though she shouldn’t have eaten it from my plate). Every member of my family has pesque as part of their diet. So when I go ask if I could use pesque for a project, I expected everyone would have already known what pesque was, but there wasn’t a single response. I then went to a different group of friends. None of them knew what pesque was. One said it was a kind of pescado, which was sort of close (they are both edible), I’ll give them that. However, when I asked the teachers, all the Bolivian ones could tell me all about pesque.
When I asked Andrea de la Rocha if she knew what pesque was, she told me what it was and how to do it. The shocker was that she knew what it was… despite not ever tasting it, as she disliked milk. My friends (who nearly all had lived in Bolivia for the last decade), who were in that Zoom call with me all commented to her that they did not know what pesque was. Her response was:
“I am bolivian; of course I would know what pesque is!”
It was very interesting to discover this about everyone. My takeaway is: enjoy quinoa while you’re still here, where it is cheap.