28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth
PHOTO: LINDA MARKLUND
In Bolivia, fifteen is the age that a girl enters into womanhood, and the quinceañera tradition dictates that an extravagant party is thrown to celebrate this rite of passage. It can be as small as a family gathering in the girl’s house or as opulent as a 1920s themed ball. Traditionally, it starts with a small Mass, then continues into an all-day party, with the girls father presenting her to the attendees in her first pair of heels, a symbol of her transition.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of these luxurious occasions is the quinceañera cake, a multi-tiered dulce de leche masterpiece, adorned with flowers, biscuits, fruit, and multi-coloured jelly. In the Max Paredes district of La Paz, cake shops line the street, displaying their most flamboyant designs, some of which cost an extortionate 3,500 bolivianos. They can be made to order in any shape or size, from basic circular cakes to designs mimicking the favourite hobby of the reina de la quinceañera.