A friend I made in Paraguay recently spent some time in India. Looking at her photos I was struck by how similar to Paraguay it looked. Why? Because there were cows everywhere! Rarely does a day go by in Paraguay without a cow sighting. What with their road crossing and hanging laundry eating you may consider cows more of a nuisance than novelty, but consider this: cows = milk!
The word for milk in Guaraní is “cambu,” pronounced “cam” (camaraderie) “boo” (bamboo) with an emphasis on the last syllable. Like so many other liquids in Paraguay, fresh milk is generally sold out of two liter soda bottles (often still complete with the plastic Niko label). Milk costs between Gs. 3,000 and 5,000 per liter. Buying fresh cow’s milk is relatively simple – you just have to find a milkman. The best way to do this is to inquire with your neighbors or the local “almacén” owner. Note: street vendors shouting “LECHE, LECHE, LECHE!” near soccer stadiums are not to be confused with milkmen; those guys are actually selling beer!
Once you obtain your fresh milk you can bring it to a full boil in order to pasteurize it or just take your chances and drink it as is. Refrigerated, fresh milk should last 1-2 days. If you leave it out the milk will separate in to cream (on top) and buttermilk (on bottom). Both of these are great for cooking (think whipped cream on top of buttermilk pancakes). If you have some children (yours or your neighbors’) to boss around you can put the cream in a bottle and ask them to shake it. The cream will eventually separates in to butter and buttermilk. It´s a great science experiment for kids! Another easy thing to make with fresh milk is yogurt. I’ll cover that process in a future post for those of you that want thick yogurt, as opposed to thinner, “bebible” yogurt. If you have any tips for using fresh milk share them here or on the Discovering Paraguay Facebook page!