The Danish Invasion
28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati
PHOTO: JULES TUSSEAU
Denmark and Bolivia are worlds apart, both geographically and culturally. Yet a Danish community is emerging in La Paz, made up of more than typical expats who have come to ‘find themselves’ in the Andes. These Danes, have brought with them a culture of organic coffee beans, gourmet fine-dining and cafés that unite socialite seniors, book-lovers and vegans.
Magick, Roaster Boutique and Gustu have all become some of my favourite hideouts in La Paz. What do they have in common?: Excellent food, delicious coffee and Danish involvement. Magick is a vegetarian bubble by day and a hive of debauchery and delectable cocktails at night. It boasts a vast selection of organic and vegan dishes and healthy fruity drinks. Here the sugar is brown and the salt is pink. Cholita hats have been fashioned into lampshades and the oriental-style lounge upstairs complements the circus-themed café downstairs that looks like an Old-Curiosity-Shop to form the original dream-like vision that Stephan Gamillescheg has for the place.
Stephan, the owner of Magick, says citizens of Denmark mainly come to Bolivia through charity projects led by Danish NGOs. According to him, some Danes shirk Copenhagen for La Paz in order to set up their own businesses, form a new growing community or, in his case, start a family.
Nom’as Claus Meyer, on the other hand, the owner of Gustu, was drawn to Bolivia not by a woman, but by the potential and quality of raw ingredients in the country. A three-time winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Nom’as opened what The Guardian’s Ed Stocker has called “a surprise restaurant venture” in the capital. Gustu’s modern and colorful decoration, faultless service and lively atmosphere are only outshone by the journey of experimental flavours that comes hand in hand with entering this Dane’s restaurant. Coca butter, llajwa cocktails, chocolate mousse cake with sultana gelée and coffee fruit ice cream. Gustu transports paceños and tourists alike to culinary finery; just as the impeccable coffee from Roaster Boutique offers up an oasis of earthy, rich and aromatic coffee in a desert of Nescafé and caster sugar.
One thing's for sure: we may not know exactly why these Danes decided to settle in La Paz, but I’m glad they did and I hope they keep on coming.