My first meal in Peru was something called a “Shawarma Fries Chesse [sic].” It was amazing and probably the closest I will get to a California burrito on this continent and therefore I loved it with all of my being. Shaved beef, french fries, melty cheese wrapped in a tidy package and served with salsa and guacamole. Pure heaven.

High five, Peru, high five.

I envy hips that shake out salsa moves and other such beats naturally. I’ve been saddled with the lot of trying to overcome my stiff, robotic Chinese girl movements and sub-par coordination for the rest of my life (not to say that every Chinese girl is a putz like me). Alas.

On that note, I think I often wrongly assume that since Paraguay is a Latin country, there are certain moves and rhythms that are just…inherent. Not so. Take, for example, the apparently not-so-simple tasking of clapping on time during Sunday morning worship. Cultural shock #3 when I moved here.

There is absolutely no regard for neither clapping on the dominant beat nor clapping in unison as a congregation. It is so dissonant and chaotic, it almost becomes melodic. Just kidding, I wish. It kills me every time. I have to forcibly shift my amazement each week so as not to get carried away in my distraction.

So. Imagine trying to teach a large grab bag group of English students, aged toddler to mature mother, a rhythm-based clapping game (not my idea). Yeah. It didn’t work. So we went with homemade lasagna and fruit punch instead.

Happy Winter Break! English School is out until August. Clap clap…clap.

Paraguayan cuisine for me is nothing to write home about, so achieving culinary epiphany with these kids is always a proud moment. Opening their eyes to whole new worlds of cuisine and flavors, and hearing their tastebuds quite literally exclaim in delight gives me the fuzzies.

With my month-long trip home impending, I promised my cooking class something big as a last hurrah before the weekly workshops go on hold. Enter Mexican food. On the docket were baked chicken tacos and my roasted salsa, which, at the end of the evening, were declared smashing successes.

The process was a bit more laborious than any other dish we have attempted thus far (I got Simon to chop his first ever tomato! Woot. If breaking down gender biases becomes another added benefit of these sessions, bring it on.). All agreed the finished products were well worth the effort and wait–even if they did complain the entire duration of baking time.

Of course, they endeavored to make obscene taco comparisons to stuffed cannelloni and lomito Arabe (doner kebap? I cannot comprehend this), but the general consensus that Mexican food was acceptable, dare they even say delicious, was sufficient to garner my satisfaction with the lesson and its reception.

First tomato he has ever chopped in his life!

Cinco de Feast-o.

May 7, 2012

In memoriam of our delectable Cinco de Mayo spread that included tacos al pastor and tinga de pollo with such delicious accompaniments as mango salsa and homemade sangria. For dessert, we inhaled fried cinnamon ‘chippies’ and ice cream, which C Schell declared “the best nachos ever in the world.”

Ay ay ayyyyy and amen.