Week of May 26 to June 1, 2022

When you go to Potosí, you have to taste the kalapurka soup”, we told Alex Severich. When he arrived in the imperial city, he could not resist the temptation, and went to Madame Eugenia to taste the hot stone soup he had been advised in Cochabamba. At 9 o’clock in the morning, the establishment is still closed. An hour later, the door opens and people begin to invade the room. Shortly after, cold drinks and corn are served. But the main course is long overdue. In the kitchen, doña Eugenia Rodríguez seems to be fighting with the pots. She distributes the work to her collaborators and supervises the fire of the stones. She feels good. She is the queen of her boiling world. Eliseo, her husband, takes care of the customers. Behind the counter, he listens to the complaints: “Okay, that’s it, doña Eugenia? We’ve been waiting for half an hour. You just have to put the stone in the soup, and it’s ready.” Jokes breed worry. Jesús, doña Eugenia’s eldest son, finally makes his entrance. Pushing the door with his elbows, he walks towards the tables. On the tray loaded with four plates still boiling, he brings the famous kalapurka. At 57, doña Eugenia perpetuates the tradition bequeathed to her by her mother and grandmother. It’s been fifteen years since she opened her restaurant, on the corner of Hermanos Ortega Street and Santa Cruz Avenue. Finding the kalapurka recipe is an impossible mission, even if doña Eugenia blurts out a few words. “The stones, you have to heat them over high heat. It is with these stones that the kalapurka is cooked. When it’s finished, we mix the other ingredients. The palace does not deceive. We recognize the taste of corn, beans, peas, potatoes, peppers. But that’s not all. The spicy taste of the soup announces a secret, indecipherable element. Mario Peñaranda, one of the regulars, explains that the soup stone is unique. It is a gray rock, hard and difficult to crumble. His friends confirm it, before specifying that it is only found in the bed of the Mikulpaya (province of Potosí). Doña Eugenia is cautious. “We choose her. It is not just any stone. It is ideal for the fire.” The cook knows that the success of her business depends on secrecy. “People come from all over the world, from Mexico, from Brazil, from the United States”, she assures Alex has a strong appetite. Well, it must be said that he is from Cochabamba. When he has finished his kalapurka, only the stone remains in the terracotta plate. “When I get back, he concludes, I will advise everyone to come and taste doña Eugenia’s stone soup.”

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