La Paz, Bolivia, is a big, crazy and dirty city. It may not have been my favourite place in Bolivia but it did have a sweet side. On the good side, there was Namaste’s amazing four course lunch menu, on the bad, Nueva Era’s crappy veggie burgers. We also found some pretty cool chocolate treats and one crazy drink.
El Ceibo is a great chocolate company based out of La Paz. They make some killer chocolate covered peanuts, raisins and rice, that are vegan-friendly and sold by almost every street vendor that’s peddling candy. At an artisan chocolate store, I found an El Ceibo dark chocolate bar, made with cocoa nibs and Uyuni salt. This was a pretty cool find considering we’d just come from seeing an amazing tour of the Uyuni salt flats. The chocolate bar was very good, but I can’t say I tasted the salt. I guess it was just there to enhance the dark chocolate and nibs. Well, it worked! This little bar was $7.00 Bolivian Bolivianos ($1.00 USD) but worth every penny.
Maca, a plant with a radish-like fruit that’s known for its ability to increase stamina, energy, and sexual function, is extremely popular in Bolivia and Peru. I’d never tried it before because it’s crazy expensive in Canada. In La Paz, I bough a 100 gram bag for 10 Bolivianos ($1.20 USD). I added a few tablespoons to an apple, pineapple and passion fruit smoothie. I was surprised that it didn’t have a strong flavour. I barely noticed it. I haven’t added it to any other foods yet but hear it’s good sprinkled on melon and in cereal. You can also find peanut butter at health food stores in Bolivia. A large jar was $28 Bolivianos ($3.20 USD).
As I mentioned in a previous post about eating at Nueva Era, the meal sucked but I had some great dried fruit.
On Zoila Flores street in La Paz, just down the street from Namaste, there are several health food stores. At one, I picked up a variety pack of vegan cookies. The raisin, oat and anise versions were great but there were a few whole wheat cookies that missed the mark. The pack of 12 was 4.00 Bolivianos ($0.57 USD).
There’s a lot of coca in Bolivia. They have to do something with it, one of those somethings being making sweets. I didn’t find any vegan cocoa treats in La Paz, that came later in Peru, but we did have a chance to enjoy one very strong coca mojito at the Sol y Luna Cafe. I wouldn’t recommend more than one, but it’s definitely worth a try. Heck, at 3600 meters, or 11811 feet, you may need the healing powers of coca to help with adjusting to the altitude.
All of the sweet finds don’t make up for the unavoidable spotting of dried lama fetuses (they are used by locals as offerings to pachamama, mother earth) that are sold at local markets but at least there is a good side to La Paz.