Pupusas of El Salvador in Costa Rica

Pupusas of El SalvadorGoing through my mind as I took my first bite of steaming, fresh pupusa – after, “oh my god, this is good!” – was, “why don’t I eat pupusas more often?”

There is a pupusa restaurant in my little country town of Atenas, Costa Rica. I’ve eaten there a few times, but now plan to be a regular.

Pupusas are the main national dish in El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. You can find pupusas anywhere in the world where there is a Salvadoran community, and there are many due to the mass exodus during their 12-year civil war from 1980 to 1992.

Every second Sunday of November – this year, Nov. 9 – El Salvador and all international Salvadoran communities celebrate the National Day of Pupusas. Made of a thick handmade corn tortilla that is filled with a variety of ingredients – soft cheese, refried beans, pork, vegetables, etc. – pupusas are eaten typically with a slightly fermented cabbage and carrot salad marinated in vinegar, called a curtido.

Fiesta de Pupusas in Atenas Costa RicaAt the very popular La Fiesta de las Pupusas Restaurant in my town of Atenas, Costa Rica, founded 32 years ago by Salvadoran immigrant Julia Flamenco, pupusas are made with 100% homemade cornmeal dough called masa. Expert pupusa cooks work a large griddle in the kitchen. They first take a ball of masa, flattening it slightly with their hands, then adding little piles of filling ingredients on top – soft salty white cheese, refried beans, ground-up chicharrones (fried pork), stewed pumpkin and carrots, or cooked white flower buds from the Loroco vine (Fernaldia pandurata), which taste similar to asparagus. They close the dough ball around the ingredients and pinch off any excess cornmeal; then pat it back and forth rapidly between their hands to flatten it into a thick pancake –filling still in the middle – and put it on the hot griddle to cook with no oil. The result is delicious!

Central America MapTravel to El Salvador, Costa Rica and Central America with Central America Experience, a Costa Rica-based travel agency specializing in family trips, honeymoons, luxury vacations, and adventure travel in Central America.

Central America Experience offers seven-night and four-night adventure packages to El Salvador; four-night and eight-night cultural and historical trips; and a nine-night cultural trip to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Article by Shannon Farley

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