When I first got to Paraguay, I, like many visitors or newcomers, didn't "get" chipa. What's the big deal? It's just bread. Why are these people so obsessed with it?
For the unfamiliar, chipa is cheesy bread. Good, fresh chipa is a little bit crisp on the outside, and chewy and gooey on the inside. It is made with corn flour, mandioca starch, eggs, queso Paraguay (and pig fat, or some secret ingredient like that). It can be in many shapes and sizes as pictured. It is sold EVERYWHERE here, in little bakeries but also from ladies with baskets on the street, and guys on motorcycles with loud speakers, announcing that they are selling chipa for all the world to hear! Like I said, I just didn't get it.
Then one of the members of the school board brought in bags of chipa from somewhere and...it was really good. But I went on with my life. Then, on a 6-hour bus ride, there was a vender selling "chipa caliente" and my friend bought a bag of 5 of them (they cost about $.0.25 US). Hey....this stuff isn't so bad! Suddenly mine was gone and I wanted more. Then a coworker told me what place had the best chipa in town, and I investigated. I'm hooked. I am SO glad they don't sell it at the school's cantina, or I'd have a major Chipa Belly to contend with!
Maybe I can convince a local to let me help them make chipa and add that entry to my cooking blog...but that will be another post, another day!
Here is a great link from the "Discovering Paraguay" website about chipa, and what to do with all that leftover chipa after semana santa.