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Paraguay

Discover the history behind Sopa Paraguaya.
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The Paraguayan diet reflects both indigenous Guarani cooking styles as well as those of European influence. Paraguay is one of only two completely landlocked countries in South America. Its cuisine is much like that of the other Hispanic countries that surround Paraguay on all sides. Corn, manioc (also known as cassava), meat, tropical fruit and other vegetables are staple food items. Soft drinks, juice and teas are also popular. Mate, a tea made from the leaves of the yerba plant, is a traditional drink in Paraguay and can be served either hot or cold.

Sopa Paraguaya is the most traditional dish of Paraguay. Though sopa is the Spanish word for soup, Sopa Paraguaya is not a soup as we know it. According to the locals, it is a meat dish made with corn flour (yielding a consistency somewhat similar to Italian polenta) as well as other ingredients like onions, lard, eggs, cheese and milk. Sopa Paraguaya is served during celebrations of the Holy Week as well as at weddings and simple family dinners alike. You can find Sopa Paraguaya served at asado, a casual gathering similar to an American barbeque. Asado refers to both the custom of cooking meat on a grill or fire and the grilled food itself, another traditional dish.

It is said that Sopa Paraguaya probably originated from a mistake made by the machu (cook) to the original founder and governor of Paraguay. After putting too much corn flour into what would have been a traditional liquid soup, she decided to put the thick mixture into an iron pan and bake it. The governor thought it was excellent, and Sopa Paraguaya was born.—Jennifer Capalbo


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