The typical foods in El Salvador are probably one of the best foods anyone can taste! The food that most identifies Salvadoran people are “pupusas”. You can find them anywhere you go. There are other typical foods from El Salvador, like chilate, nuegados, yucca, atol de elote, tamales (from pork, chicken, beef) and shuco. Except in large cities, which have supermarkets, most Salvadorans shop daily for groceries at an open air market. Beans, rice, tortillas and tamales (a type of corn dumpling wrapped in banana leaves) are the basic staples of the Salvadoran diet, as common as bread and butter are to North Americans.
Traditional Salvadoran cuisine combines the foods of Spain and the American Indians. Many of the dishes are made with maize. The corn Hojuelas with honey is a food eaten during the celebration of All Saint’s Day, this means, the day dedicated to bring flowers to the cemetery to the deceased. Coyoles with honey and Torrejas (French toast) with syrup are seasonal dishes eaten during Holy Week or Easter.
Here are some favorite foods and recipes… Pupusas – A favorite fast food unique to El Salvador. Pupusas are basically cornmeal tortillas filled with beans, cheese, or pork and most often a combination of any of the three.
Pupusas originated a long time ago. They were created by the Pipiles, the native Indians from El Salvador. They are then fried and served with a tomato sauce and pickled cabbage called curtido. Curtido – (Salvadoran cabbage salad) Casamiento – Standard daily fare.
A great way to serve leftovers. Casamiento is a mix of beans and rice, usually left over from the previous day. They are fried together and often served for breakfast or dinner. You can’t believe how much flavor the Salvadorans can pack into basic rice and beans. Arroz con leche – commonly known as rice pudding. It is another great way to reuse yesterday’s rice.
Heat up some milk with sugar and cinnamon and reboil the rice for a few minutes. Makes a great breakfast or dessert. Horchata – When it’s made well this traditional drink made with rice, cinnamon, sesame, allspice, and a native seed called moro is delicious. In El Salvador, people may make their own horchata, but there are many commercial varieties and horchata powder available in Latin grocery stores. There is some debate about whether horchata should be prepared using milk instead of water. Some say the oldest forms of recipes likely did not include milk since it would not have kept well.
Whether or not milk is used, horchata has a milky texture and consistency and is preferable when served ice cold. Be forewarned, however, that there are some vile versions of this drink and getting it down can be a challenge! Elote – fresh corn. This is very different from maiz, which is dried, mature, elote. The elote is in season from about August through October. The Salvadorans use the fresh corn to make corn fritters, fresh corn tamales, riguas corn dough mixed with fresh cheese and beans and cooked on a hot skillet in banana leaves — delicious), sweet corn soup, corn on the cob, and “crazy corn” or elotes locos.
Pollo Encebollado – (Salvadoran chicken simmered with onions). Platanos Fritos (Fried ripe plantains) Fruits and Vegetables A wide variety of fruits and vegetables find their way onto the Salvadoran table: potatoes, yuca (cassava root), squashes, cabbage, carrots, onions, chipilin (a leafy green), tomatoes, peppers, plantains, bananas, pineapple, coconut, mangos, guavas, nance (a cherry-like fruit), and pacalla (palm flowers). Ground pumpkin seeds (alguashte) and sesame seeds thicken stews.
Pastries hold a special place in the Salvadoran heart. The semita is a coffeecake-like pastry often filled with a variety of jams and preserves. Salvadoran quesadilla – unlike the Mexican snack with the same name – is a sweet pound cake flavored with parmesan cheese and sour cream. Pastelitos are small baked turnovers filled with custard or fruit preserves. Children find an easy sweet chewing on small pieces of sugarcane. Salvadorans’ preferred drinks are coffee and hot chocolate. Licuados and refrescos (fruit drinks) are also popular.
Many beverages in El Salvador are based on corn. For atoles, corn flour is mixed with water or milk, sweetened and served hot or cold. Atol shuco, made with purple corn, is particularly popular. Chicha is a mildly alcoholic beverage made with fermented ground corn. Cafe de maiz is made by brewing toasted corn kernels with hot water. Other popular beverages are hot chocolate, coffee and fruit milkshakes called batidos. The names of the favorite Salvadoran beers are Regia, Bahia and Pilsener.