Ah, the beloved national dish. It’s cornmeal dough shaped into a circular patty with your choice of filling. The traditional three are chicarrones (pork rinds), cheese and frijoles (red bean paste) or ask for revueltos meaning all three. They’re served with vegetables in vinegar (help yourself from a massive plastic jar on the table) and tomato salsa. Two pupusas are my limit so far, with the pickled veg actually being my favourite part of the whole pupusa experience.
There’s over 20 volcanoes in El Salvador, located as it is on the Pacific ring of fire. Santa Ana is one of the best known, which I’m looking forward to hiking up in February, when I return to El Salvador to catch my flight home. My current favourite, mainly because I see it each time I leave the San Miguel guesthouse where I’m volunteering, is Chaparrastique which erupted most recently in 2013.
Everywhere from street corners to the beach, there’ll be a lady making small round discs out of cornmeal then frying them on a gas or coal grill. Just ask for a dollars worth and you get a piping hot stack of around 12, neatly tied up in two plastic bags. Always two bags, no idea why.
Retired school buses from the United States are found all over central America. I’m not sure if travellers gave them the name of ‘chicken buses’ but it apparently stems from the amount of livestock crammed into them. I love looking out for new designs and slogans on the buses I pass.
The best part of wandering town streets is definitely looking out for the hand-painted and stencilled shopfronts.
The three beers found on every bar menu is Golden, Pilsener and Supreme (in order of strength). My favourite so far is Pilsener, but I also found this very nice dark beer, made by Cadejo. Interesting fact – a Cadejo is a mythical dog from Mayan times, who is a guardian angel to late night travellers.
This chain ice cream shop is found in towns all over the country and sells ice cream in various family sizes, as well as individual lollies.
This style of painting was founded by Fernando Llort, becoming a traditional artisan craft. Apparently Palma, a hilltop village in the North, is chocablock with street murals in this style. I’ll definitely be going there!
Minutas, or shaved ice desserts
Can I interest you in a bowl of shaved ice, topped with various sickly sweet flavoured syrups, pineapple, papaya, bananas, condensed milk and a side of sweet wafers? Oh, and its served by a guy on a bicycle. Minutas sellers are everywhere in El Salvador and always have a queue.
Although there are supermarkets in all cities (at staggering US prices), street markets are still where most people get their groceries, from fruit and veg to cheese, dried pulses and fresh fish. Nearly everything is sold in pre-weighed dollar bags – my latest purchase was 20 tomatoes for a dollar and a massive bag of green beans for a dollar.