Andrés Rodriguez reports for La Razon:
‘Anthology of Bolivian gastronomy’, by Beatriz Rossells edited by the Bicentennial Library, will be presented on July 30 at the Japanese Garden of La Paz.
‘Antología de la gastronomía boliviana’, obra de Beatriz Rossells
Perhaps one of the most difficult questions they have asked any Bolivian abroad is the following: What is the typical dish of Bolivia? Can you even reach an agreement by region to determine what food each department represents? It is something, no doubt, complicated, but as Sucrense historian Beatriz Rossells also says, “instead of being a problem, it is a wealth.” That quality that is within our pluriculturality and that responds to our indispensable condition of a sybarite country par excellence, is reflected and compiled in the work Anthology of Bolivian gastronomy, anthologized by Rossells herself and edited by the Bicentennial Library of Bolivia. The work will have its presentation on July 30 in the Japanese Garden, in the city of La Paz.
The work, divided into three parts – history, chronicle and recipe book – gives us an approximation to the food reality in the pre-Hispanic period and the presentation of those original products that characterized and still remain valid in the region. The first part, entitled Bolivian cuisine throughout history, emphasizes cooking in Potosí and Charcas in the 18th and 19th centuries with the arrival of the recipes from Spain and subsequent miscegenation that took place based on Amerindian products. It is a brief glimpse of how the gastronomic revolution not only occurred in Europe for ingredients such as potatoes, tomatoes and chili peppers, among others, but also in our territory as a result of the conquest and colonization. This work, which had the collaboration of an advisory committee made up of chef and author Rita del Solar, by La Paz writer Gonzalo Portugal and by gastronomic writer and chronicler Ramón Rocha Monroy, offers a great diversity of sources dating back to the colony and the Republic that allow us to understand, through different theories and appreciations, how that culinary tradition has been built that is preserved to date and that is born from the union of ancestral gastronomic knowledge and brought from outside.
The cuisine or gastronomy is part of our fabric as a country, as well as in the different social and historical processes, something that this anthology rescues since the modernization arrives in Bolivia, at the end of the 19th century, with the changes in the political processes, Economic and historical of the country. The cooking was no stranger to all that movement and thus also makes a bibliographical rescue that extends until the 21st century, which gives us a panorama, even, about the revolution that is happening in the cuisines of different initiatives such as Gustu, Ali Pacha and Clandestine Flavor, among others. The new trend, according to these chefs, is to recover the use of native ingredients, grains, fruits, which are still consumed by some villages and exist in the countryside, and were not used by the predominance of other types of ingredients.
If there is something to note about this anthology, it is the work that took place in the process of rescuing works and recipes, dating from the same 18th century, as is the case of Josepha de Escurrechea’s book, to other more current compilations such as With clandestine flavor, a cuisine that goes beyond recipes (Editorial Kipus), by the artist and gourmet Marco Antonio Quelca. The bibliographic richness of this work also goes hand in hand with a criticism of the literary production of Bolivia that has to do with gastronomy, in the sense that thinking about a new edition of this book would not be possible, since, according to the same counter-author affirms, in the country there are no recipes been made. Unlike the brother country of Peru, with one of the best gastronomies in the world and with a great literary production in the area of cuisine and gastronomic research, the circulation of this anthology would have to be a call for the new generations of chefs to start to publish and publicize this gastronomic revolution that is beginning to want to materialize in Bolivia, this with the aim of being able to continue recording the history of Bolivian cuisine.
The work is completed with samples of gastronomic chronicle of outstanding writers such as Ciro Bayo, Luis Téllez and Ramón Rocha Monroy, in addition to texts by Jaime Sáenz’s pen, among other writers, which reinforce, in the same way, that inseparable relationship of the cuisine with the Bolivian lyrics. The anthology closes with no less than 277 recipes – a titanic task – that covers the cuisine of the different cardinal points, the diversity of our people, different authors (female, male) and times that, even, returns us to some of our grandmothers’ kitchens with their inquiries to the recipe book of Nelly de Jordán or that of Aida Gainsborg, to mention a few examples. Yes, categorizing our cuisine is complicated, but it certainly has a great wealth.