A foodies guide to eating in El Salvador
Before I actually got to El Salvador in Central America, I wasn’t too sure what I was actually going to blog about. I didn’t know much about the country, I was only going to be there for a couple of nights and in all honesty in comparison to other countries I was travelling to like Guatemala and Costa Rica I wasn’t as excited.
However as soon as we arrived in Suchitoto, a sleepy colonial town, a new food obsession was triggered and I knew what I had to write about. Pupusas’s are basically the national dish of El Salvador and I’m totally obsessed.
So what actually are pupusas?
Pupusas are very simple stuffed breads filled with a variety of fillings and cooked on a hot grill. The best way to describe these El Salvadoran staples is likening them to a flat Italian calzone however they’re so much better (maybe because they’re so cheap).
A meal for just one USD
You’ll find these all over the country in restaurants and cafes but the best places to eat them are at one of the many street side pupuserias where you can enjoy a pupusa for just one USD (although it’s practically impossible not to go back for seconds or thirds).
The main dough is made out of either rice or corn flour that is then rolled into small balls. You can choose from selection of filling such as pumpkin, prawns, refried black beans and cheese or spinach which are then pushed inside the dough before they are patted down and baked on a sweltering hot grill until speckled and bubbling. There’s only one rule when it comes to eating pupusas- No knives and forks allowed.
Pick your sides wisely
I think the best thing about these staples are the sides that they come with. The main accompaniments usually include curtido, ( lightly fermented cabbage), salsa or fresh tomato sauce, so a couple can make a substantial meal, or one makes a good afternoon snack.
Veggie, Vegan, Meaty or Gluten free?
For those of you with dietary requirements the other hidden bonus of pupusas are that almost anyone can eat them. Depending on the fillings that you choose pupusas can be vegan or vegetarian and if you opt for the corn-based pupusas, which in my opinion are the nicest anyway, then they are also Gluten free so even Celiacs can eat them.
If you’re not already online booking your flight tickets to El Salvador now then I’ll just say this- pupusas aren’t just food in El Salvador, they’re an integral part of the country’s culture. Whether you’re standing by a small stall at the side of the road, or a chaotic and bustling Pupuseria, there’s no better way to fully get to grips with El Salvador’s culture, than joining the queue for dinner.
Winning pupusa combinations you have to try: (GF optional)
- Prawn, garlic and cheese
- Prawn and pumpkin
- Refried beans, garlic, jalapeno (Vegan)
- Cheese and loroco ( An edible flouring plant native to El Salvador) (veggie)
- Cheese and refried beans (veggie)
- Spinach and cheese (veggie)
- Cilantro (corriander), cheese, jalapeno (veggie)
- Garlic and cheese (Veggie)
- Chicharron (ground pork), beans, cheeese
- Spinach, Loroco, Cilantro (Vegan)
- Pumpkin and spinach (Vegan)