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Pupusa – a traditional dish that makes El Salvador proud

Pupusa – a traditional dish that makes El Salvador proud
on February, 22 2013

If you are to travel to El Salvador sink your teeth into a pupusa. A pupusa is basically a stuffed tortilla, which can be eaten plain or filled with various toppings in which the sky is the limit. Visit a pupuseria – it sells various versions of the dish. It is a humble and affordable meal which is why it is very popular among average Salvadorians. However, do not let its price fool you. A pupusa is as good as any dish you may have tried in a Tex-Mex restaurant or even better!

Pupusas are hand-made, and created out of corn tortillas which of course come from maize flour dough that is commonly used not only in Salvadorian cuisine but with the rest of Latin America as well. Depending on your taste and the preference, you can choose one or a combination of the following: frijoles refritos or refried beans are a popular choice, so is the soft cheese known as quesillo and pork meat that has been reduced to a paste-like consistency called chicharron. However, this is a different type of chicharron and not the popular type of pork rinds that have been fried to a puff.

As popular a dish as it is, the most common order for the average Salvadorian is the pupusa de queso and the pupusa revuelta which is a combination of the soft cheese, pork paste and the refried beans. A pupusa is not just served as it is. Since the dish is a meal, it is served with a slaw that has been fermented called curtido. It is made up of cabbage, vinegar and chilli. A typical pupusa meal also comes with salsa as a condiment. Pupuserias can be found scattered all over the streets of El Salvador, even vendors that sell them right on the streets.

There are many variants of Pupusas in El Salvador alone. From the way the dough is made to the preparation and even the fillings that are used, each place and pupuseria can have their own take on making a pupusa. For example, a variation in a different region in Alegria is the pupusa de bananoin which bananas are added to the dish. On the other hand, in local El Salvador, a pupusa de arroz is also a popular variant. It is made from rice flour instead of cornmeal.

In other parts of Latin America such as Mexico, a variation of the pupusa is called a gordito. Then of course, in the United States, the flour used is different than that of the local pupusa in El Salvador. They are made with commercial corn or rice flour instead of the masa harina (dried cornmeal flour) that the Salvadorians use. Every region, even those in the United States has its own version of the dish.

So if it is your first time ordering a pupusa or you have no idea where to start, here are some variations of the dish to help you get started when you get the chance to come acroos a pupuseria.

Pupusas de chicharrones. This is the meat version of the dish wherein a paste-like consistency of pork is added as a filling. It is cooked with tomato sauce and is also a very popular variation of the pupusa.

Pupusas de Queso. It is one of the most basic pupusa recipes. It entails having a cheese filling that is made from grated soft cheese called quesillo or other types such as mozzarella or farmer’s cheese. Typically, this variation also has some green chillies inside the pupusa.

Pupusas de frijoles refritos. This is a pupusa variation in which the filling consists of refried beans. If you’ve got a thing for them, then you will surely love this dish.

Pupusas de arroz. Pupusa in which the type of flour used is from rice and not the dried cornmeal flour that is typically used.

Pupusas revueltas. As the mother lode of pupusas, this variation contains a mixture of the cheese, refried beans and the pork paste known as chicharrones.

Pupusas de Queso y Loroco. Besides the cheese, this variation also contains the loroco which is an vine flower that is popular among Salvadorians.

Once you have your order served to you, do not bite into it just yet. A pupusa is best eaten with a heaping of curtido (the coleslaw marinated in vinegar) on the top and with some spicy salsa as well. One of the most awesome things about having a pupusa is that you can buy loads of them as each is quite cheap. For instance, if you wanted to have a cheese filling, you would only have to spend a quarter for it. This is why you can order a lot since it really isn’t that expensive. Of course, the cost only comes second to the best part about eating it. The taste of biting into each pupusa can be next to euphoria, especially if you are an avid food lover always looking for the next authentic thing across the continent.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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