Though Paraguay’s blogging community is still small, there are a handful of blogs worth following. Discovering Paraguay (www.discoveringparaguay.com) features posts on all aspects of Paraguayan culture, from food to Guarani phrases, and is written in both English and Spanish. Camino al Paraguay (www.alparaguay.blogspot.com) is updated daily with a wide array of news stories and coverage of upcoming events throughout the country. Cazador de Instantes (www.cazadordeinstantes.com) is an excellent photoblog featuring Paraguayan festivities and traditions and Naturaleza del Paraguay (www.familiadiarte.com) showcases beautiful shots of Paraguay’s flora and fauna.
Travelers with Special Considerations Vegetarians
Paraguayan meals are heavily reliant on meat, and vegetarianism is highly uncommon. However, it is possible for flexible vegetarians to enjoy eating in Paraguay (see Vegetarian Options). Those cooking their own meals will find Paraguay’s fertile land provides vegetarians with a cornucopia of fresh produce. Check out the local markets for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are in Asuncion be sure to check out the Agroshopping farmer’s market (see Agroshopping) where a number of Asian vendors sell ready-made soy-based foods including sushi rolls. Asian markets also sell fresh tofu (queso de soja). Supermarkets in Mennonite communities can be a good place to stock up on peanut butter and oatmeal.
When ordering food, vegetarians should be specific about what they can and can’t eat as the Spanish word for meat, carne, refers exclusively to beef. When ordering food ask whether it contains carne de rez (beef), chancho (pork), pollo (chicken), or jamon (ham). Recipes for many traditional dishes, including chipa, call for pig fat (grasa de chancho in Spanish and kure nandy in Guarani), though in urban areas, it is often replaced with vegetable oil (aceite or grasa vegetal). Being flexible about cooking surfaces and eating around meat will greatly increase a vegetarian’s food options. Unfortunately, vegans will have a much harder time adjusting. Both vegetarians and vegans should bring along snacks and be prepared to eat a lot of mandioca (adding hot sauce will make it more interesting).
The Union Vegetariana del Paraguay maintains a list of vegetarian restaurants in Asuncion and Ciudad del Este on their website (www.uvpy.org/Restaurantes.html). In the countryside, vegetarian options will be limited. Therefore, your best bet may be to seek accommodations including full room and board, specifying you are a vegetarian while making your reservation. Most lodging will be willing to let you use their kitchen to prepare your own dishes once they are aware of your special circumstance. Do not be surprised, however, if locals refuse to try your vegetarian fare. Paraguayans are notoriously unadventurous when it comes to food. Don’t take it personally.
Paraguay is home to a very small Jewish population, living mostly in Asuncion. Generally speaking, Paraguayans are unfamiliar with Jewish beliefs and practices. If it is consistent with your practice to eat at them, there are some vegetarian restaurants in major cities. Kosher meats are available in Asuncion at CO-OP, run by the Fernheim Mennonite cooperative store.
CO-OP Tel: 021 219 5000, Avenida Espana 2112
Beit Jabad Paraguay (Asuncion) Tel: 021 228-669, Juan M. Frutos Pane 378, www.JabadParaguay. com