8 November 2016 – The A.V. Club
Head to a local market in Bolivia, and the first thing you’re likely to notice is a smell, damp and vegetal, emanating from huge bushels of dried green leaves that are being sold for a few bucks a pound. These leaves are coca, and to Bolivians they’re far more than just the raw material used to make cocaine. Andean peoples have chewed or brewed the leaf for thousands of years, using it to increase stamina, aid digestion, and combat altitude sickness. More recently, it’s become a gourmet ingredient in the nation’s administrative capital of La Paz, a city that has in recent years been transformed from a culinary backwater to an unexpected darling of the global eaterati.