In Caacupe They Make Chipa

In Caacupé they make chipa. This mellow Paraguayan town, ensconced between beautiful green hills and canyons, is known for the small, biscuit-shaped snack, which is made with mandioca flour and cheese. You can find plenty of chipa in Asunción as well, but here it grows on the shelves of every food stall and floats through the streets on the heads of Basilica de Caacupé Basilica de Caacupé hardworking saleswomen.

Basilica de Caacupe

Basilica de Caacupe

A soft, porous piece of bread chipa is not. If you tossed one in the direction of Caacupé’s other main attraction, the beautiful Basilica de Caacupé, you’d be putting the building’s structural integrity at risk. Nevertheless, they sell like hotcakes. Have one with a cup of Nescafe, and you’ve got a fine snack on your hands.

If Caacupé is the country’s chipa-duct, then its source is Barrio San Francisco (an appropriate name for a hub of Kiva activity), a neighborhood where almost all of the residents, and numerous Kiva borrowers, dedicate themselves to churning out hundreds of little bagels-in-disguise every day. Loan officer Freddy Bordon of Kiva partner Fundación Paraguaya (FP) took me to Barrio San Francisco this morning to meet with Francisca Burgos, President of the Kuña Aty Women’s Group. Francisca told me that she and her family members make about 900 chipa each day, working for hours next to the oven’s tremendous heat in Paraguay’s already oppressive summer sauna (when we chatted at around 9:00 am it was already over 90 degrees). It’s hard work, and microloans from Kiva allow the women of Kuña Aty and many of their neighbors to purchase their ingredients in bulk. Bulk purchases mean lower prices. Lower prices mean a higher income when sales are good, and breathing room when sales are slow. Pretty basic, but it works.

When we finished talking shop, Francisca was nice enough to walk me through the chipa-making process, which you can watch below (apologies for the quality of the sub-titles; they didn’t transfer to YouTube well. They’re a little better if you watch in full screen):

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~ by nickcain on March 13, 2009.

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