Friday, May 8, 2015


I should be working on the book, but...well...I just don't feel like it at the moment. I've got a half-written draft-post about my son, but who wants me to blather on about that?

[my child went to school the other day with three masks (of the cloth, Zorro variety) and a pair of green gloves with the aim of playing "Sleestaks" with his amigos. I explained that the other children probably wouldn't know what the hell a sleestak is (as they probably don't get to watch old Land of the Lost videos like he does), but that didn't deter him. Tim Shorts would be so proud]

And I could post my skill tree stuff, but my inability to make tables in HTML is a constant source of irritation. Besides, I'm still rethinking my stance on "sensical" fantasy RPGs (and their merit compared to the standard, nonsensical D&D variety).

[it might surprise some folks to know that I am really NOT a fan of George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones. I mean, I watch it as the TV crack it is (similar to, say, Friends or Sex and the City), but I don't recommend it to people, and I don't miss it terribly when it's gone. I'm glad it's introduced an interest/enjoyment in fantastical fiction to folks who were, perhaps, turned off by the frufru-ness of elves and hobbits. But what I enjoy and appreciate much more than the story is the setting of Martin's books...THAT is what I was ripping off for Crowns of Blood]

What I want to write about, I suppose, is Paraguay. And, more specifically, chipa.

People who've not spent time in Paraguay (or, perhaps, parts of Argentina right on the border) will have no idea what chipa is. There's actually a fairly good wikipedia article on the subject, though the picture doesn't do it justice. Most chipa you find in Asuncion is donut-shaped, like this:

Chipa piru...what I was eating this morning.

Or (my favorite), something more like this:

Bigger around then my hand.

[the difference here is like the difference between small, hard pretzels and big, soft pretzels...except they taste much better than pretzels, in my opinion. They DO have pretzels here, by the way, though I think they are mostly consumed by the largish German community]

I say "fairly good," but really I mean "I'm surprised they've printed that much about chipa." For the most part, they are not really "cheese-flavored" (none of the donut-shaped ones are), having more of a corny or mealy taste. The soft ones have the spongy-center...the small, hard ones (the chipa piru) do not.

I have been told that the "traditional" or "authentic" chipa are the ones that look like this:

I'll be eating these at lunch today.

And those ARE pretty good, especially when fresh-baked. However, even good chipa of this type tend to go bad after a day...that is, they can turn chalky-powdery, the way some baguettes will go hard if not eaten in 24 hours. When you're at a restaurant, they're a nice little side (usually served in a basket with other "normal" breadstuffs: sticks and rolls, etc.), but you don't want to take a bag home for breakfast.

Because that's when most Paraguayanos are consuming chipa. The same way dudes like me enjoy a coffee and donut in the morning hours (instead of a more nutritious breakfast), folks here eat chipa and coffee (usually of the instant variety). They'll drink tea all throughout the day (out of a giant, personalized thermos; usually cold)...but coffee with chipa seems to be the norm. As a guy who drinks a pot-and-a-half daily (the coffee here is a lot weaker than what you get in the States), I've grown especially fond of chipa snacking.

[their donuts are crap anyway]

So fond, in fact, that chipa is going to be one of the (few) things I really miss when I leave this country. Hell, I chased an old beater chipa truck five blocks in my car yesterday to get the kind of big donut chipa I was craving (5000 guarani...about $1 American...and soooo worth it). I've gotten to the point where I'm considering learning to bake the damn things myself (I've asked a local to get me a recipe), so that I can make them in Seattle.

Not as a gig, mind you...I don't think I could hack it as a baker. But how else am I going to get fresh chipa? It's not like there's a Paraguayan baker in the neighborhood, let alone the wandering chipa truck.

Asuncion (and Paraguay, but much of Paraguay is Asuncion and vice versa) an interesting town with an interesting history. But right now, I'm only interested in its chipa.


  1. I do bake, a lot. I would be very interested in trying this myself if you are ever willing to share the local recipe...

    1. @ Fr. Dave:

      I'll post it if I get it.
      : )