Tarata: Chorizo y Chicha

One of the first things you notice about the vehicles in Cochabamba is the brightly painted school buses.  Well, actually, the very first thing you notice is the absurd number of people packed into every nook and cranny available in every vehicle.  I guess Bolivia just doesn’t have the seat belt laws the US has, so they pack as many people as possible into every car; sometimes it seems like all of Cochabamba can fit into a VW bug.  Once you get over that, it’s then that you notice the brightly painted school buses.  They function as the city public buses, the cheapest of the public transportation, and the most chaotic.  The next step up are the mini buses or vans, which are just smaller versions of the school buses.  Then come the trufi, which are taxis that follow a specific route.  Finally, there are the taxis, which aren’t simply vehicles that take you where you want to go.  They also act as pickup and delivery people.  Say you need something from the store, you can call a taxi to bring you whatever it is you need.  And the brightly painted school buses aren’t just reserved for public transportation; we actually rented one for our last day in Cochabamba, with a driver, to visit the surrounding countryside of Cochabamba and Tarata, a town about an hour outside the city.

It was August 6th — Bolivian Independence Day.  Bit o’ history: Bolivia finally achieved independence from Spain on August 6, 1825 when the royalists in northern South America were finally defeated by Simon Bolivar, for whom Bolivia takes its name, and Antonio Jose de Sucre, for whom one of Bolivia’s capitals takes its name.  We had been hearing the Independence Day parade preparations every morning since we had arrived in Cochabamba and on the actual day, it seemed that everywhere we went, there were parades, the Bolivian flag was flying, and people were celebrating.  In Tarata, the entire town gathered around the town square to watch the parades of school children, marching bands, and soldiers.  There were street vendors everywhere selling handmade cinnamon flavored ice cream and popcorn.  While we watched the parades a bit, our main goal was to eat chorizo de Tarata.

Chorizo de Tarata

Chorizo de Tarata is a dish very specific to Tarata — you can only find “real” chorizo de Tarata in Tarata — and boy is it worth the drive!  When you go down the side streets, there are women making these long thin, finger-like sausages and frying them in hot oil right there on the street.  For our meal, we went into a cafe next to one of these frying stations, and since we had such a large group, we were shown to what looked like the back storage barn with a long table that we pulled extra chairs up to.  You could get 10, 15, or 20 chorizos, served upon a mound of trigo, a type of grain with an earthy taste.  The chorizo was served with llajua, a spicy green sauce, which I could only use a little bit of because it really was picante (spicy)!  Along with the usual Fanta, to drink, we shared a traditional Cochabamba drink called chicha, which is essentially fermented corn casings.  Served in an earthenware pitcher with a wooden drinking saucer, it’s passed around the table so everyone gets a taste.  Very strong, very interesting flavor.


After our amazing lunch, we got back on the bus for more driving through the country side to a certain ceramics shop in one of the surrounding towns, where beautiful earthenware everything is made and sold right from the craftsmen.  And once everyone got their share of souvenirs, we headed back toward the city, stopping for a bite to eat at a roadside cafe with really cool ovens in which they cooked these cheese-filled pastries.

One Response to “Tarata: Chorizo y Chicha”
  1. Ahh I love this!!! Especially the pictures!! You are so adventurous…. Have fun and say hi to Oscar for me 🙂

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