Bread, the most basic of food stuffs, is the perfect signature of a place whilst on the move. I sometimes find that with travelling around so much that these signatures help mark the differences in the places that I get to visit, keeping me from becoming complacent. And with Paraguay it is the use of aniseed in the bread. Not all the breads are made with it but the Chipa and a few of the other popular ones do, this detail woven through the bread was the gentle whisper that pulled me round and kept my eyes wide to the new I was experiencing.
The Chipa; the national bread, a daily occurrence, a pet name the group would call each other. Even just saying the word brings me joy. Chipa.
A unique, doughnut shaped bread which main ingredients include mandioca flour, cheese and aniseed. Most commonly sold home made from large brimmed baskets balanced on the heads of street vendors. Many Chipas were consumed over this month stretch in varying forms but my favorites were those bought on bus journeys where the Chipa Mamita boarded the bus and sold them warm and with a softer texture due being made with oil. However, just because it is the national bread doesn’t mean they are always well made, I came across some really bad ones. The worst Chipas I ate were late at night from the baskets of grumbly looking men. Often hard, staleing and dense due to being cooked with animal fats. The combination between its design and dryer nature requires smaller bites and more chew, meaning you can really take your time eating one.
I ate four on my way out of the country, it seemed only fitting to leave Paraguay licking the salts of the Chipa from my lips.
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