The very first day I arrived to Bolivia I was invited out to a “Chicheria” to hang out with the locals during the day and drink a fermented maiz, (corn) drink known as “Chicha”. As I sipped sweetly from a hollowed-out gourd, I felt nothing more then the tingle on my tongue and the concentrated bubbles fill up my tummy like a balloon. Then, about five gourds in, I felt a warmness fill my soul like a cozy blank would on a rainy day. As the heavy chichi pours continued, the energy grew, and the afternoon turned into a delectable day of dancing, eating, and drinking chichi into the gray hours of the afternoon.
Ancient tribes that derive from the Andes for centuries have consumed Chicha. Some history says that Inca used chichi for ritualistic ceremonies and large religious festivals. Chicha has maintained some of its origin in rural pueblos outside of Ecuador, Columbia and Peru, but are arguably most popular and retain the most authenticity in Bolivia. Although chichi can be made from almost any fermented substance such as plantains, apple, or grapes, in Bolivia it is most often used from maize.
To best way to enjoy Chicha is to visit a Chicheria in the “campo” or the outskirts of a big city in Bolivia on a Sunday afternoon when the locals flee the city limits to drink, dance and enjoy copious amounts of food. Traditionally, Chicherias serve monstrous amounts of meat such as “Chicharron” (fried pork) and “Pique Machu” (fries topped with meat, cheese, and veggies). Most Chicherias will have plenty of traditional folk music booming loudly in the background, and some may even entertain with a live band. Either way, the combination of greasy meats, spiked chicha, and dancing can fill the soul with joy but can later reek havoc on the digestive track! If it’s your first time to a Chicheria, drink slow, eat slow and dance to the hearbeat of one of South America’s richest traditions in Bolivia!
Have you ever drank Chicha in South America?