Repost: Things to Try in Paraguay

This is a repost from 2010. I continue to travel back to Paraguay a few times a year, and people don’t seem to know what to expect, where to go, etc – so here are at least some tips to help you get by!

While living in Paraguay for 6 months, I learned quite a bit about the food culture and travel destinations, which both can be hard to come by and understand as a tourist.

Here’s some tips for what you are eating when you order:

Food

  • Bolitas de Mandioca – Mandioca and cheese rolled up and fried, (like a croqueta)
  • Bollo - Doughnut that is typical of San Bernardino (a lake town about 45 minutes outside of Asuncion) and is filled with cream, dulce de leche, dulce de guayaba, or any other type of filling the “La Alemana” (the famous bakery that makes bollos) chooses to make
  • Borí-Borí - A chicken or vegetable stock with balls of corn flour and queso Paraguay
  • Chipa -  most traditional chipa is made from corn flour, mandioca starch, pig fat, queso Paraguay, eggs and a dash of anis
  • Chipitas – this is the same ingredients as Chipa just in a smaller snack size – great for mindless nibbling because once you start you can’t stop
  • Chipa Guazusimilar to Sopa Paraguaya (see below) but a bit creamier in texture (my preference of the two!)
  • Dulce de Leche – Condensed Milk and Sugar, cooked to perfection – similar to caramel
  • Empanadas de Carne - I assume you know what empanadas are – and then just imagine them filled to the brim with delicious meat (or whatever other ingredients the chef fills them with!)
  • Fruit – Paraguay has amazing fruit trees all over the country, the most typical you will find are: Grapefruit (Pomelo), Orange (Naranja), Sour Orange (Naranja Hi), Tangerine (Mandarina), Lemon (Limón – though this looks more like an orange!), Guava (Guayaba), Passion Fruit (Mburucuya), Mango, Papaya (Mamón), Strawberries (Frutillas), then of course there are always Bananas and Apples available throughout
  • Gnocchi – Just like exists almost anywhere in the world, Paraguayans love their Gnocchi, and so do I – especially when made with Batata (sweet potato)
  • Helado – (Ice Cream) – This is pretty self-explanatory, except that the ice cream here is AMAZING! I recommend Frutos del Bosque (Fruits of the Forest), Mburucuya (Passion Fruit), Or any other type of creamy/chocolatey/dulce de leche -y flavors!
  • Jugo - The juices in Paraguay are outrageous and you can find them on the menu of almost any restaurant place that serves food (see list of fruits above) A popular Paraguayan brand for store bought juice is Frutika – and it’s worth it’s fame!
  • Lomito – a sandwich consisting of thin slices of beef with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and usually served alongside any number of sauces to make this already outrageous sandwich even more delicious!
  • Mandioca – (Yucca or Cassava) – For those who are not familiar with Yucca, this is a potato-like vegetable – can be served cooked or fried (Mandioca Frita)
  • Mbeyú – a mix of corn flour, Paraguayan cheese, and egg that you mix together and cook in a frying pan. You used to only be able to find this seasonally, but now it seems to be available year round.
  • Meat - Paraguayans LOVE their meat! And most of it is delicious!
  • Milanesa – This is very thinly sliced meat (usually carne = beef) that is then breaded and fried to perfection – you can also find some good Eggplant Milanesa which to me is even tastier!
  • Mousse de Mburucuya - Passion Fruit Mouse!
  • Pizza al Tatakua – (Tatakua = Horno = Oven – in Guaraní) – Brick Oven Pizza
  • Sopa de So’o - this is a very typical Paraguayan soup with a beef-broth filled with meat and vegetables, depending on the chef
  • Sopa Paraguaya – despite the name this is not soup, it has more of a consistency of corn bread and is filled with onions and salt
  • Terere – Terere and Yerba Maté are almost one in the same – they are herbal teas very popular in South America (you can see people walking around with their thermos and guampa or mate (cup where the terere is served.) The main difference between the two is that Terere is drank with cold water and Mate with hot, depending on your mood and the temperature outside!

Here’s some tips for what’s worth seeing when you find yourself in Paraguay:

Places

  • Arregua – About 45 minutes outside of Asuncion on the other side of the lake from San Bernardino (read below.) Famous for their Artesania (local Artesan crafts and art) primarily in ceramic, as well as their Expo de Frutillas – Strawberry Festival – every winter (from about August-September) where they feature their delicious strawberries (where everyone in Asuncion buys their year’s supply) in the form of natural fruit (both sweet and bitter), juice, cakes, ice cream, empanadas, liquors, etc. They also have a famous church which overlooks the beautiful lake, which is unfortunately too contaminated to swim in.
  • Arroyos y Esteros – literally translates to Streams and Estuaries – about 1-2 hours outside of Asunción where you can find a lot of waterways and farms
  • Cataratas de Iguazu - The most amazing waterfalls you’ve ever seen in your life in Argentina, and Brazil – but borders very closely to Paraguay’s Ciudad del Este.
  • El Chaco – in Northern Paraguay, the largest territory in Paraguay taking up 1/3 of the land, it has very dry heat year round and a lot of wildlife
  • Ciudad del Este – A city in the eastern region of Paraguay that is famous for having any type of contraband or product you are looking for; i.e. don’t want to pay $200 for that new iPhone, you can probably find it for $50 there!
  • Mbatovi – Nature reserve with eco-adventure-tourism, like ziplining, rapelling, etc. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to go yet as they were closed when I tried, but I’ve heard it’s amazing.
  • San Bernardino (SanBer)- A beautiful lakeside town about 45 minutes outside of Asunción, very popular in the summer. Unfortunately the lake is not swimmable due to contamination (don’t try it) but you can get delicious Dulce de Leche or Cream filled doughnuts at the famous Aleman (German) restaurant in the town
  • San Rafael Reserve, Atlantic Forest – Natural Reserve in the Atlantic Forest that still maintains it’s jungle beauty – more specifically, if you want to stay the night, you should contact ProCosara
  • Pantanal – This is one of the most naturally incredible and beautiful places I’ve ever been. It is absolutely worth the effort, but I must say it is definitely not easy to get to, it’s either 2 days by car, or a small jet can take you in two hours, but I would not recommend trying to organize on your own as the tourist industry is not quite built up. Going on an organized trip through an eco-tourism organization, such as Guyra Paraguay, is definitely recommended.
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