In Bolivia, a bowl of caldo de cardán is considered to have plenty of beneficial effects. It’s like a natural Red Bull, some claim, giving you an energy boost that lasts for hours. It also has a reputation as a cure for hangovers, and many Bolivians seek out a bowl on Sunday mornings. And, perhaps most famously, caldo de cardán is considered a natural Viagra, a claim derived from the soup’s main ingredient: a bull’s penis.
The key to a great caldo de cardán is time. The rich soup needs at least 10 hours on the stove, and most chefs start cooking the night before, especially on the weekend, so that the soup is ready for hung-over clients the next day. When it’s served, it has to be piping hot, which most locals will tell you is the key to a swifter injection of penis-fueled energy.
Bull’s penises aren’t the most flavorsome of things, so a good caldo de cardán normally includes plenty of other ingredients. Pieces of beef, lamb, and chicken are often thrown into the mix for extra flavor, as well as potatoes, eggs, rice, and chopped onions. Some cooks also add llajua, a traditional Bolivian spicy sauce made from chili peppers, tomato, and onion.
You might be pleased to hear that you’re unlikely to see a whole bull’s penis floating around in your caldo de cardán. The member is normally chopped up, often becoming indistinguishable among the other ingredients, at least to the untrained eye.