For our Food & Travel Issue, Carolyn Kormann travelled to La Paz, where an avant-garde restaurant, Gustu, has contributed to Bolivia’s food revolution by using only local ingredients. The country is one of the world’s most biodiverse, with more than 20,000 documented species of plants. Here are a few of the weirdest.
  1. Tumbo
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    The chef of Gustu calls this “the high-altitude cousin to passion fruit.” The seeds inside taste like SweeTarts.
  2. Tunta
    The white potatoes here are preserved by an ancient method: left outside to freeze and thaw repeatedly during the dry season, soaked in a river or a pond for as much as a month, and then dehydrated. Eaten plain, they evoke chalk and blue cheese.
  3. Maíz morado
    Kormann describes these as “purple corn with kernels like gumballs.”
  4. Pacay
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    This resembles an oversized bean pod stuffed with pearly gauze. Seidler says, “It’s like cotton candy.”
  5. Papalisa
    These are the Liberace of potatoes. They can be baby blue, pale pink, or butter yellow with fuchsia polka dots (pictured here). Bolivia has more than a thousand cultivated varieties of potatoes, along with dozens of wild species. People have been growing them for millennia on the altiplano, where the bizarre tubers’ funk and color enliven the bleak terrain.