Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Paraguayan asado

Barbecuing in Paraguay is a real art. Celebrating a friend's birthday? A religious holiday? Just a regular Friday night? All are perfect excuses for an "asado" (barbecue). A typical Paraguayan asado consists of "chorizo" (sausage), "mandioca" (yuca), salads, sopa Paraguaya (similar to cornbread), and really, really good meat. I also highly recommend the relatively recent asado addition, "chorizo con queso," a sausage filled with salty, melted white cheese. As appetizers, hosts will arrange a "picada," where chorizo and mandioca are cut up into bite-size pieces and guests use toothpicks to pop them in their mouths.

Sebastian and Marcelo putting the chorizo on the grill
Other interesting "delicacies" if you're adventurous consist of "molleja" (cow's cheek), "morcilla" (blood sausage), "corazoncitos de pollo" (chicken hearts - which I actually tried, unknowingly!) or "chinchulin" (small intestines of a cow).

Chorizos on the charcoal grill

The meat is all cooked on a large "parrilla" (charcoal grill) in the host's backyard. Practically every house in Paraguay boasts one of these enormous grills and a patio with a long communal table, just beyond. While the salads and side dishes round out the meal, don't be fooled - the real star of the show is the meat.

Asado at Camilo and Pilu's house

And don't forget a good bottle of Malbec from neighboring Argentina or an ice-cold Paraguayan Pilsen beer - the Paraguayans may know meat, but don't expect a great bottle of domestic wine.

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