Monday, October 1, 2012

Salteñas... a Culinary Delight in Bolivia

In Northern Argentina and Southern Bolivia there are these confections known as Salteñas. Salteñas are savory baked pastries filled with chicken, beef or pork, mixed with vegetables like potatoes, peas, olives and infused with a sweet sometimes spicy sauce. I found them in many places, but Sucre seemed to have some of the best. They are often available in corner convenience stores, but the best are found in specialty Salteñas Cafes. And they are best eaten when they are fresh out of the oven and hot!
These are three examples of different Salteñas. From left to right Santa Clara (Sweet Chicken), Carne (Beef) and Pollo (Chicken).
This cafe called El Patio had some of the best Salteñas.
One can enjoy the Salteñas while sitting in the cafe's nice outdoor patio.
I liked to accompany my Salteñas with a fresh juice or smoothie. This one is made of strawberries.
One characteristic of Salteñas is that the ingredients on the inside are infused with a juicy broth. The fist time I ate a Salteña I simply picked it up with my hand and took a bite. The hot juices overflowed onto my hand and plate. It was a mess. As a result, much of the savory goodness was wasted. I then observed how the locals were eating the pastries.  The well versed eaters of Salteñas would take a small bite out of the top of the pastry, then use a small spoon to spoon out the ingredients and juices... a much more refined way to enjoy the delicacies. I learned my lesson... eat like a local.
This is an example of a Salteña de Pollo (Chicken). It contains chicken, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices and the broth. It seemed like there may have been a touch of curry as well. Delicious!
This is a Salteña de Carne (Beef). It contains beef, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices and the broth. It seemed to have a little more picante (spice). Yummy!
And, this is a Salteña de Santa Clara. It contains chicken, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices. It seemed to contain less broth and was a little more dry. Also, it had a sprinkling of granular sugar baked on the top. I would say that it was a little sweeter.

All of them were great. Sometimes the Salteñas contain other surprises like olives and small eggs.

Salteñas became a staple of my diet while in Sucre. Generally, the cafes that sell Salteñas open at around 9:30-10:00 am. They make an excellent mid-morning snack... or for late risers... a perfect morning breakfast. Buen Provecho!

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