I just got back from lunch and thought I would regale you all with a tale of the other weekend, involving food.

When I first got to Paraguay, people kept telling me to make sure I tried the sopa paraguaya – which translates literally, I was sure, to “paraguayan soup.” Great, I thought, I’ll do that.

Next time I got the chance, I ordered sopa paraguaya and was met with this:

It looks a lot like, tastes a lot like, and in fact, is a lot like cornbread.

Two possibilities for the misunderstanding flashed through my mind.

  1. (The more likely) I was displaying my ignorance and forgetting that the word “sopa” actually means something completely different.
  2. The waitress had misheard my request.

I consulted my fellow jankees (spanish for “Yankees” >> latin american for “white dude, probably associated with the military or cia”). Indeed, they informed me. This was sopa paraguaya, and sopa does mean soup. We were at a logical impass.

Fast-forward about 2 months and I am sitting on a bus with a Paraguayan friend, and she is pontificating on the various idiosyncrasies of paraguayan culture. She concluded “The rest of the world doesn’t really understand us.”

Nodding in agreement and leaping at the opportunity, I asked, “what about sopa paraguaya?”

“what about it?”

“well…it isn’t really soup, like a hot liquid with vegetables or meat or something…”

“no, it is soup.”

“**?**(tilts head) but it’s solid…”

“right, it’s sopa paraguaya.”

“which means what? it is a soup that is solid?”

“Yea, Paraguay is the only country in the world that has a soup which we serve in solid form.”

**raised eyebrow**

aaannnndd scene.