Food and Drink of Paraguay

You’ll find much of the standard South American cuisine here – beans, rice, with some Brazilian influence as well (fried bananas, pineapple). Also highly popular are empanadas (meat/egg stuffed in a pastry and baked) and milanesa (breaded and fried chicken/beef/fish) – these are considered fast food, and are also found in other countries in the region. If you order a hamburger at a restaurant, expect it to come topped with a fried egg. Asado (BBQ) is great, and prices are quite reasonable – 20000 Guaranis ($3.20 US) will get you an all-you-can-eat buffet at many nice places. 5000 Guarani is enough to pay for a hamburger. Paraguayan food isn’t particularly spicy, so those who can’t tolerate spices won’t have problems here. There is a lot of traditional food. Chipa-a bread baked in a fire, usually made out of cassava (yuca) flour. Cassava is often substituted for potatoes. Sopa Paraguaya is a form of corn bread are two of the most well known.

It’s not advisable to drink the tap water (unless boiled), but you probably won’t get sick if you do. The national beverage in Paraguay is a tea called mate, and is made from the yerba plant. It is served in wooden cups, and is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla. The tea is prepared by pouring dry yerba into the cup, then adding water (hot or cold) and optionally sugar. When prepared cold, it is called tereré. Often, herbs are added to the mix. The taste is best described as earthy and bitter and it will take getting used to before you can enjoy it. Drinking mate is most definitely one of the social customs of Paraguay. Shops will close around noon for a siesta and a mate round with friends. If you can get used to the taste and participate, locals will be appreciative. This drink is also found in other South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil.

Beer is widely available, as are many liquors.

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