The Food Fascinates Me

September 4th

oil, fish = big meal

Fish and oil are a meal. Just add fire.

I’ve been going through my photos of Bolivia and about 80% have something to do with food. I think my love of cooking and eating has taken over my trigger finger. This could also explain why once again I came home with jeans a bit snug and a ravenous appetite. Bolivians know how to feed their guests and I am a sucker for great hospitality.

Fish fry whole

The matriarch used most of that bottle of oil to fry these fish. When I asked her how often she gets to market, she told me she makes the six hour walk every other week. This fish fry was quite the gift to our group.

When we visited another Guarani community near Timboy, they prepared a min-meal for our meeting. It is fishing season, so there nets in the nearby river were overflowing — to the extent they prepared the gift both grilled and fried.

Fish place precariously above the coals

The second batch of fish were filleted and placed between layers of barbed wire fencing that had been modified to be used as a grill. Coals were prepped and the fish began to sizzle.

fileted fish in the grill
fish come off the fire
community food provided as a gift

As the fish cooked, we met and discussed the community’s health needs. Before I knew it, the large table in the center of the meeting area was ready for the snack. No need for plates and hand-washing; just grab a handful of fish and corn from the table. Everyone!

showing off his snack

What? You don’t want the grilled fish? Then how about a fried one?

fish, fried whole

Fried whole, mind you.

grabbing a snack

Whatever, lady. Your loss. Out of my way!

our workers chow down

That just means more for us. Why don’t you and your “delicate stomach” wait for us in the car. And don’t even think about sneaking one of those protein bars. We can see you.

Tomorrow: the markets.

Posted in
Journal, Recipes, Travel
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22 Responses

  1. I love the sense of generosity in their community. There are smiles on their faces and they seem truly glad to have this little feast with you.

    There ingenuity in creating grills for the fish is really interesting. It may be metal but isn’t it amazing how “crafting” crosses all sorts of lines. In this case, their creative grill is a type of “form follows function” concept and I love that kind of thing.

    Wonderful pictures, Kelli. I look forward to the rest of your adventures.

  2. Hmmm. Fascinating for sure. But I don’t think I could eat food if it’s “looking” at me like that.

  3. Yum! Love fresh grilled fish. But I would need to turn it over so I couldn’t see the eyes πŸ™‚

  4. I don’t care if it is looking at me or not, just as long as it is gutted!

    Looks great!

  5. Mmmm you’re making me hungry! I’ve found that my favorite part about traveling is the food. I definitely have a over sensitive trigger finger when it comes to meals and snacks! Your photos are great, can’t wait to see the rest of your travels.

  6. Like you, I’m torn between yum and yikes. It looks and sounds like a delicious adventure, but…I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food sometimes. Bad idea.

    Welcome home, my friend!

  7. wow, now I remember that you are vegetarian arn’t you? how do you cope with not being able to refuse food? even from a point of view that it might make you sick? you can’t use religion so what do you do?

  8. We take a lot of food pictures, too. Food is a wonderfully universal, yet uniquely cultural expression. My memories of travel often include meals or specialties I’ve tasted. I know you’re a veg, so eating on these adventures is an adventure in itself. But, I have to say yummmmm…lucky you! Nothing tastes better than fresh fish roasted, fried, grilled, and eaten by hand (even if you have to look at it first – look it in the eye and give thanks to its fishy spirit for sacrificing itself for your meal). πŸ˜‰ And I always love your pictures, Kelli.

  9. i love fish but the fried whole thing may be a bit more than i can handle. and i consider myself a purist about cooking fish!!!

  10. You didn’t eat the fish!?!? Is that what i’m picking up from your little narative there?

    We need to talk. haha.

    Glad you’re back.


  11. I’m not a big fish fan but that grilled fish actually looks really good to me, I think you missed out!!!

  12. I envy you:(
    Wish i could have been there… those fish actually look a bit like something we have here… hahahah can’t eat it though:(

    Can’t get over the beautiful photos you always have…
    Much love

  13. I’m with you, girl! That “fry up the little fish whole” thing is also big in Italy, called “fritto di paranza,” basically all the little fishies that get caught in the net get dumped in the oil and fried up. I’ll never forget the first time I (accidentally) ordered it before I knew what it was! Luckily Ale loves it and said I didn’t know what I was missing, but… fine by me!

  14. I’m sure you missed something not eating that fish! And sometimes I wonder if we are way too obsessed with all the “clean” stuff…..Glad you’re back girl, I missed you!

  15. Food brings people together and you can learn SO much about another culture through their food. Looks like you had a great experience even if you didn’t eat the fish. I once had fish served to me with the head still attached and I had to throw a napkin over the eyes because I felt like it was staring at me while I ate it. πŸ™

  16. The whole fish with the eyes still in it gets me. I can’t eat seafood, when I was travelling in Japan and Mexico it was very hard to explain I had an allergy. They just didn’t understand the concept.

  17. Um, okay. Sneak the power bar!

  18. Welcome Back! Fascinating food! I had to laugh at those pudgy round tamales. Funny how we get used to things “our way.” Sometimes it helps to have some social pressure when learning to eat new foods. I never would have tried sushi any other way. If I can eat it raw, I probably could eat it grilled, maybe not the eye parts tho! Fried food doesn’t agree with me in any country.

  19. I would be right there with you, elbowing those doubters out of the way!

  20. for some reason, those beans look very weird to me and when i opened your blog, i threw up in my mouth a little bit. then i got down to the fried fish staring at me and it went outside of my mouth a little bit. brave, brave soul. i’d have to take my stash of peanut m&m’s for sure.

  21. those corn kernels are huge! out of the world huge. i bet they had a great flavor. but you didn’t eat any, now, did you? and how were the fish seasoned? it looked yummy. so but, i guess a lot of third/fourth world health problems are due to food sharing/eating without plates and utensils?

  22. I cannot get over the picture of the woman’s hands that are peeling the potato! I cook for a living and often complain, in winter, about how dry and chapped they get. What a wienie I am!!!! As always, I enjoy your adventures, living a teeny bit vicariously through you in Bethlehem PA.