Patasca Festival at the Pirai River - Sunday Aug 15
On Sunday the 15th at the "Cabañas" at the Piraí River, from 9 am until sometime in the afternoon you'll have the chance to taste "patasca" a dish that is very typical to Santa Cruz. If you've already attended the "Festival de Locro" and the "Festival de Majadito", also two traditional Bolivian foods, you may have noticed there's a trend beginning at the Cabañas.
Santa Cruz has been celebrating the bicentennial of its first cry for independence from Spain all year. As immigrants from other regions of the country continue to flood into Santa Cruz and its population swells, many of the traditions and customs of this region are being forgotten, lost or replaced by others so both the city and state governments have made a big effort this year to recover them and to educate the public about them. Thus, at the Cabañas at the Piraí River, the Parque Urbano, art galleries, the Casa de la Cultura, and many many other venues, Santa Cruz is reviving its traditions, art, foods and music for all to enjoy.
You can find variations of patasca that are typical to each region of Bolivia. In Santa Cruz, patasca is sort of stew made with pork and mote (large white corn kernels known as hominy in the U.S.), but on Sunday you'll be able to enjoy several varieties made with duck, chicken, beef, and others.
The Quechua and Aymara of Western Bolivia make a "phatasqa" which typically contains a whole sheep's head. Some families in Santa Cruz also cook their patasca with heads and other parts you may be unaccustomed to such as tongue and eyeballs.
Fortunately, there will be many varieties to choose from this Sunday at the Cabañas where, between 9 and 11 am you can try patasca -- for FREE!
If you're touring Santa Cruz, or just moved here from somewhere else, I encourage you to actively participate in the extraordinary number of events celebrating "camba" traditions, music, art, customs and food that will take place this year.