Paraguay is one of the smaller South American nations, and it is often one that is overlooked by visitors. While most people overlook Paraguay, it is a hidden gem for culinary travelers as Paraguay food is one of the best reasons to visit.
Unlike some of its neighbors, Paraguay really hasn't adopted many ingredients or cooking styles from the indigenous people. Many of the ingredients are the same ones brought over by the colonial powers.
This gives the traditional food of Paraguay an European flavor, and makes it one of the best places for those looking for a taste of something a little more familiar.
Common Ingredients In Paraguayan Cuisine
Agriculture is one of the main industries in Paraguay. Most of the crops are farmed locally and the animals raised contribute to a diet similar to that eaten in Uruguay.
This means that meats such as beef, pork and lamb all play an important role in the diet. Without a coastline fish are generally freshwater fish, and there are several varieties of catfish caught in the country's rivers.
One of the main crops in Paraguay is corn. In Paraguay food often uses this crop, while dairy ingredients such as milk and cheese are also important parts of the diet.
The Staple Dishes Of Paraguay
One of the most traditional meals that is eaten in Paraguay is sopa paraguaya, which is a blend of European and the indigenous Guarani cuisine.
It is a thick corn bread made with onions, cornflour, eggs, milk and pork fat. If you are fortunate enough to join a local family for a celebration, an 'asado' style barbecue is one of the most common communal meals.
Another of the traditional staples in the Paraguayan diet is Mbeju, which is a starchy cake that is usually eaten with a cup of coffee, and includes a similar range of ingredients to Sopa Paraguaya.
Many of these dishes developed because of a scarcity of food after the Paraguayan War. This led to an emphasis on cooking food that was sustaining with plenty of calories in order to keep people going until the next meal.
Meat And Fish Dishes
The 'asado' barbecue is one of the traditional ways to enjoy meat in Paraguay. Most of these barbecues offer a combination of sausages, steaks and other cuts of meat. Often guests bring salads and side dishes.
Milanesa is one dish with European influences, it is a breaded cutlet of beef or chicken usually served with mashed potatoes.
One of the most common ways to prepare fish in Paraguay is pira caldo, which is a thick rich soup made with chunks of fish, tomatoes and peppers.
Vegetarian Dishes In Paraguay
In Paraguay food can revolve around meat but there are also many vegetarians options. One of the tastiest vegetarian dishes on offer here is kiveve, which is a creamy dish made with pumpkin, cheese and corn flour. Kiveve is either served as a side dish or as a main meal.
Bread is also an important part of the diet in Paraguay. One common type is chipa, which is a type of cheese bun made with manioc flour and eggs.
Paraguayan Desserts And Drinks
While many of Paraguay's dishes have a hint of sweetness, desserts follow the tradition of being filled with calories to sustain people who might have to go longer periods between meals.
Cakes are particularly popular and easy to find throughout the country. You can find honey cakes, raisin cakes and cookie cakes everywhere. One of the traditional snacks in the region is Kosereva, which is a sweet made by cooking sour orange skin in dark molasses.
One of the common drinks in Paraguay is mate (pronounced ma-tay), which is found across South America, and is an infusion of leaves that has a strong caffeine kick, and is drunk through a type of metal straw that is traditional for the drink itself.