Plato Paceño: A Traditional Taste of La Paz


In 1781, the indigenous Aymara leaders Túpaj Katari and Bartolina Sisa launched an attack in La Paz, hoping to take the city back from Spanish colonizers. The siege lasted for a total of eight months, from March through October of that year.

During the siege, there was an enormous food shortage in La Paz. The Spanish governor, Captain Sebastián Segurola, asked all of the surrounding farmers to collect as many crops as they could and to bring them back to the city. Corn, lima beans and potatoes were the most readily available crops, and each one promised a long shelf-life without needing refrigeration. In addition to these three core crops, cheese made from sheep’s milk was also plentiful. Alas, from these ingredients—corn, lima beans, potatoes and cheese—and out of sheer necessity, the traditional Bolivian dish plato paceño was born.

In the end, the Aymara leaders lost the battle over La Paz, and the city remained under Spanish rule. After the siege was over, meat was eventually integrated into plato paceño. Additionally, the people of La Paz began to use cheese made from cow’s milk, rather than sheep’s milk. Today, more than 200 years after the indigenous rebellion in La Paz, plato paceño is still prepared for lunch and dinner. Now, it's a popular dish enjoyed by people all over Bolivia.