The Cure for Hiccups and Translated Food (Korean Bodegas)

Ana's four-week old grandson was paraded in front of me with great delight. On my third day back in Asunción I was able to reconnect with the extended clan of my former Guaraní instructor, Hermelinda. Apparently, my months spent sitting and reading have added a few pounds, something that was noted and praised. Shrug. I noticed that the little boy, with a head of hair thicker than what we'd see on a newborn, had a small wad of cotton fixed in the middle of his forehead. "In our culture," Herme explained, "we does this to cure the hiccups. What do you do?"

I'm not sure we do anything; certainly trying to frighten the baby out of hiccups, as we do to adults, is out of the question. "Do you use olive oil?" I continued. "No... just water or saliva," she answered.

My suspicion has been confirmed, if only in part. The bodega on the corner is run by Koreans. I bet the one on the following block is, too. When I asked the owner, who sat reading his Bible, where one could find good bulgogi and kimchee, he looked at me bemused and surprised. Apparently, there's no place yet that serves this, but he did give me an approving thumbs-up for knowing (and liking) something about Korea. I wonder how different it'd be down here for a Paraguayan palate (and with local ingredients). Hopefully better than the suspicious "Exquisito Plato Oriental Chop Suey" I saw at Bolsi Restaurant, which boasts (in English) of having "The best food south of Mason-Dixon."


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