Consistently overshadowed by Lima, La Paz is finally stepping out into the spotlight as a gastronomic city, using high-altitude ingredients and ancient cooking techniques.

When the plate arrived, I wasn’t thrilled about its contents. On it was a deep-fried, puffed-up tortilla with a tiny, bright-red crab resting on top, its pincers jutting off the edge. I’d eaten soft-shell crab numerous times before, so there was no reason to be deterred from eating the entire body of the crustacean, but there was something about its unfamiliar hard shell and sharp red claws that didn’t exactly whet my appetite.

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