“Pupusas are the specialty of El Salvador! We eat pupusas all day. There is even the National Pupusa Day every November where the biggest pupusa was cooked reaching a diameter of 4.5 meters! And if you ever fly from San Salvador, you will see that Salvadorans buy pupusas before the flight to bring them abroad!” With this enthusiastic answer of our Salvadoran friend to our local specialty question, we had to try as many pupusas as possible while traveling through El Salvador!
It is not a tortilla, nor a pancake, neither a pizza. A corn flour dough that is the same base as the tortilla is first scooped out and slightly flattened to incorporate the topping(s) of choice. Then, the pupusa takes its shape by being gently clapped on by hand previously dipped in oil and thrown onto the hot griddle for a few minutes, before being flipped over.
Served on a plate, or most often in a transparent plastic bag to go, it invariably comes with curtido (pickled shredded cabbage, onions and carrots in vinegar) and a spicy salsa.
The basic pupusas are of frijoles (black beans), cheese, chicharrón (pork meat) or revueltas (a mix of the three). We also tasted other toppings such as squash, spinach, jalapeño, shrimps or loroco flowers. The list seems to go on and on based on the season and the local favorites.
Despite the freshest seafood enjoyed with stunning Pacific views and amazing sunsets, either grilled or in a creamy soup (known as the local specialty of mariscas), the hot pupusa eaten with our fingers, and accompanied by a licuado (milk-based fruit smoothy) became our daily treat in El Salvador and a must-try for any visitor. No wonder why the pupusa is the national dish of El Salvador and was elected best street food in New York City a few years ago!