If it looks like raw hamburger meat to you, you are close. But you are also so, so far. There is more to parisa than meets the eye, and you’ll know that when it hits your palate.
Parisa is a cured meat mixed with cheese, peppers, onions and spices. It’s normally cured with lemon juice. In Medina County, parisa is almost considered its own food group and an important part of social events. In fact, if you get married in the area and don’t serve it, locals may question if the marriage is even valid.
Every family has their own recipe, which they may or may not share. It’s usually enjoyed with a handful of saltines, Fritos, Julio’s, corn chips with a hint of lime—our favorite—or by the spoonful. Cook the leftovers, if there are any, with scrambled eggs in the morning.
Mention the treat in other areas of the state and you are likely to get a blank stare. Once you explain the dish, you can expect that blank stare to turn into a look of disgust. You may hear, “You eat what?!” once the person picks their jaw up off the floor. But, like many regional dishes, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Most families can’t make or eat enough of it—in fact, I pick up a pound most Saturday mornings to snack on over the weekend. Both my daughters had eaten it before their first birthday, probably against the advice of pediatricians.
There are stories of some families buying shower curtain liners and spreading those out on tables or tailgates to make more than 100 pounds for weddings. That amount will last about 12 minutes if there are enough parisa lovers in attendance.
Want to try making your own parisa? Watch our Facebook page this month for a recipe.