Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cultural Blunders

Tonight is the couples Home Bible Study we have here at our house each week. I have a big job ahead of me tonight. I have to make up for a grave mistake I committed last week.

Last week I decided to serve some crackers and cheese, bread sticks and dips as well as cake and quesillo.

Apparently, this is a big NO-NO!

Paraguayans do not eat savory and sweet at the same time as it will make them sick and they may even die from it! The only thing more dangerous would be to eat watermelon at the wrong time. I can never quite pin them down on when it is safe to eat watermelon and when it is deadly, so I will not serve watermelon to a Paraguayan. EVER!

Tonight, I will not give them anything savory. No bread!

Let them eat cake!


Pam said...

LOL Rita you are too funny! What a talent you have for entertaining us all here on your blog!

Brooke said...

All those cultural quirks must take a lot of getting used to!

Betty said...

haha, never knew this either! Thanks for informing me too!

Rhonda in Chile said...

That's great! Things used to be a lot like that here. When we first came to Chile, my mom made a big igloo cooler with juice and ice. When she took it to the Church, the adults looked inside, shook their heads, removed the offending ice, set the cooler out into the sun, and then and only then did they serve the juice!

Anonymous said...

that is why my dad never liked sweet and sour ,he was in Paraguay as a child.That explains THAT!!!!

redneck preacher said...

Pardon my ignorance but is savory sweet, meat, or spicy.

"Make me savory meat" in Gen. 27.

From your list, "crackers and cheese, bread sticks and dips as well as cake and quesillo." I cannot find the meat. Is Quesillo meat?


Findalis said...

I wonder how they would handle cheese and fruit? In Europe and the US it is a good food choice.

Mrs. C said...

I thought you were serious. Then I thought maybe it must be a stereotype about people there because I can't imagine the genetic makeup of people there is *that* different. Then I thought someone was playing a joke on you and maybe I should check out snopes.

Now I know the joke is on me! LOL

Joy said...

So your friends aren't fans of watermelon. So sad.
Hope it all turns out well.


Gringo said...

So that would mean it is verboten to add sugar to terere?

A friend married a woman who had to have all foods separate. That meant that stews and soups were not permitted, for example. The marriage did not last, but not for that reason.

Nina in Portugal said...

Bless your heart....we've all done it!!

I make myself a nervous wreck worrying about that sort of stuff!!

Thursday's Child said...


It takes all kinds, doesn't it?

Debbie said...

That is fascinating. I have heard that tale about watermelon. I think it is around in several cultures.

Jungle Mom said...

Pam, I aim to please!

Brooke, Yes, it does.

Betty, really? I find they have a lot of food rules.

Rhonda, That's funny.

Joyce, I am curious, why was your dad here as a child?

redneck preacher, savory is just salty and non sweet. Quesillo is a kind of custard much like a flan.

Findalis, They do eat some fruits with cheeses, I just never know what is acceptable and what is deadly!

Mrs. C., Hehehe

Joy, well, no one died and they ate all the cake!

gringo, I think it must not apply to drinks because they drink sweet coffee. I am still learning all the rules.

nina, Good to know I am not alone. Sometimes I think I have a gift for these kind of blunders!

Thursday's Child, I bet you have interesting dietary rules in Kuwait!

Debbie, I know they used to think watermelon cause malaria!

MightyMom said...

so what time's the party

I'll be right there, what kind of cake am I walking to Paraguay for?

Now, come enter my giveaway and I'm counting on YOU to know the answer to my popquiz.

MightyMom said...

so here's a question I have to fill out for public school....made me think of you.

how would you answer this for each of your kids?

1--what language is spoken in you home most of the time?

2--what language does your child (do you) speak most of the time?


Gayle said...

"So let them eat cake!" ROTF!

I wonder why they think they may die from eating savory and sweet at the same time?

Sarah Joy said...

So the Mexican way of eating fruit is not going to work in Paraguay, is it? They nearly always put salt, chili, and lime on it, especially on watermelon!

Kathy said...

That's interesting to me and although I've heard it, I never noticed it because my mother-in-law doesn't follow those rules because she likes to eat too much and never turns down anything! :) (Usually anyway--remember she wouldn't eat our wedding cake which as VERY unusual for her!) She's easy to cook for! The watermelon rule (which my she breaks!) is to eat it alone or for your very, very last dessert. Enjoy your meals and don't get too cold!

Gringo said...

I Googled “watermelon rule paraguay” and came up with a posting from Brenda: Death by Avocado.

Gringo said...

Brenda's Death by Avocado is worth quoting in full.
When I first arrived in Paraguay I was not aware of rules for eating avocados. So when I had company one day, I made a salad with avocado in it. Our friends were serving their food when suddenly the man noticed avocado in the salad. He literally pushed back from the table and said (in a loud voice), "are you trying to kill us?". Bob and I were puzzled. We looked at the salad, examined it for worms or poison and saw nothing. "We can't eat avocado with tomato! That will kill us. The avocado will turn to poison in our stomachs if we eat it with all this savory food!"

That is how I became aware of the rules for eating avocados in Paraguay. Personally, no avocado has ever hurt me, even the Paraguayan ones. But I always want to be sensitive to the way they believe. It turns out there are several rules for food. You can't eat chocolate after watermelon, for example. Or mix fruit with meat. I am learning, but I don't fully understand it all yet.

I bring this up because this same couple is coming for dinner on Saturday. I sincerely hope I do not make anything that threatens their health (smile).

Apparently a sense of humor helps Gringos get by in Paraguay.

Tammy said...

Ah, people are funny. Here in Guatemala, they think they get sick if they experience any kind of emotional shock. There's even a medicine at the pharmacies for all types of "asusto".

Tía Hillary said...

I lived in Asunción for a year in 1979 as an exchange student and have been back four times since, and have never noticed this. I did notice on my most recent visit (last week) that Paraguayans are still among the most loving and kind people I would ever hope to meet, and they would wonder at your labeling only certain men 'Christian' (in an another post) when it is a Catholic country. If you mean 'Protestant,' then say so.
Also - every Paraguayan I met was very happy to share in my joy at our current President, but perhaps since you've been out of the country you may not have known that "W" left office with the lowest approval rating ever.

Jungle Mom said...

My dear Hilary!
A whole year! Wow, that must make you an expert on the culture. Good for you. For the last 25 years living in other cultures, I have found that one only acquires a superficial knowledge at best in such a short time. People will only share a small amount of their inner culture with tourist as they see them as very self centered, pleasure seekers often using the experience for thier own personal gratification.

As for the term, 'christian', in the general sense, it would mean anyone who follows Christ. You seem to be unaware of the fact that I am not a protestant. A bit judgmental of you is it not? to label me when you do not even know me?
For real? George Bush is not President?????? How did I miss that???? That certainly explains much.
Yes, Paraguayans are among the friendliest people I have met. I have said this repeatedly on this blog. They do however, have interesting food ideas, which is part of their charm. You may need to leave Asuncion to see this. You might need to understand some of their Guarani idioms to know what they are saying. This can not be done in a short visit of one year.
While I agree that many Paraguayans thing highly of Obama,however, being Catholic, when I explain Obama's terrible voting record in regards to abortion, even very late term abortion, most are repulsed and wonder why the media has not mentioned this.

Joyce D. said...

to an answer to your question about why my dad as a young person lived in Paraguay.Well here in Canada in the early 1900,s(maybe 1929 or so).The Mennonites wanted to move to Paraguay because the country was becoming to worldly in their eyes.So my dad's parents moved the whole family,6 children,(1 already married)to Paraquay.There they were in Port for a whole year,and decided to move back because there was alot of sickness in there camp,and my grandmother thought they might all die before they would get to the land they had been promised.My dad was 12 at the time but he remembered alot about that time they spent there and the journey there and back.
now on your comment on Obama
"While I agree that many Paraguayans think highly of Obama,however, being Catholic, when I explain Obama's terrible voting record in regards to abortion, even very late term abortion, most are repulsed and wonder why the media has not mentioned this".
I SOOO agree with you why the media hasn't mentioned it more!!I think Obama signed that,or promised to sign that because of certain votes he was counting on.But yes I was VERY disappointed in him!!!

Tía Hillary said...

Yeah ... Obama's voting record on abortion - one of the reasons I'm so thankful he's our President!!! My father, long-time Republican, has voted Democrat for the past 15 years as he could no longer reconcile himself and his medical teachings with the party that would rather have women dead from back-alley abortions rather than educate and provide contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

And, Christian, not Catholic, then, yes, you're Protestant. I'm sorry if I misunderstood, I thought you were Mennonite. Not Catholic. Founded after the Protestant Reformation.
sorry - I really need to stop reading certain blogs ... I long for news about Paraguay, but get too frustrated. So thankful my mother gave me "god is not great" by Christopher Hitchens. Best book I ever read.
Sorry - really will try not to bother you anymore.

Jungle Mom said...

A short lesson in church history is required. 'Protestants' are the christian denominations which came out of the catholic church during the reformation. Thus the name PROTESTANT.
A christian church which already existed outside of Catholicism and even before Catholicism is not protestant. Thus, being baptist, I am not a protestant. Not am I an evangelical as they are the groups which have come out of the Protestant denominations. I am not Mennonite.
Sorry, abortion is something you approve of. You should know that the vast majority of abortions are actually REPEAT abortions being used as birth control. Less than 1% of abortions are for the mother's health. That's a sick cop out.
Glad your Dad found a political party he agrees with. It's beautiful to live in a country where we can vote as we choose.
You can read my blog whenever you choose to. I don't mind at all. i get some comments I do not even print as they are personal attacks and even profane. I am tough and used to it.

Just hate to see someone so close minded that they can not even fathom a different point of view or the right of an individual to have one.
CHRIsTIAN by definition is any follower of Christ. there are Christians in every denomination. Not just one group, which is why I used the word rather than Catholic.