Ayote en miel in El Salvador

Another treat from Reina’s kitchen: ayote en miel. It’s squash slow cooked with water,   panela, cinnamon and cloves. 

I love going to San Salvador's 'Pupusa Mountain'

A mountain near El Salvador's capital, called Los Planes de Renderos is famous for eco parks, cool temperatures and, above all, top-shelf pupusa joints. Lining the roadways one can find dozens or possibly hundreds of pupusa restaurants, dives, street vendors and others. I call it "Pupusa Mountain." 

Our current favorite is called Pupusaria Elisa. It directly faces another place called Pupusaria Isabel. (A few other restaurants sit in the same facility.) As you can see, Elisa is packed and Isabel is empty. We always find it like this. Last night, all tables were taken at Elisa, and all tables were available at Isabel. Quality counts, I guess. 

Home-made pupusas!!

You can buy great pupusas in El Salvador -- great curtido (cabbage-based vinegar-flavored stuff) and sauce are harder to come by. But home-made is the best. 

Riguas for breakfast in El Salvador

My wife's cousin, Reina, made riguas for breakfast, which I had never tried before. (The rigua in this picture is the long, oval item, part of this complete breakfast that also includes a tamal, cheese and red silk beans.) They're delicious!

Riguas are one of the many foods unique to El Salvador that were retained in the diet from indigenous cooking. 

They're made with rough-ground fresh corn cooked in banana leaves. 

You can have this pre-Spanish item with nothing on top, or topped with foods brought by the Spanish: sugar, butter, sour cream or curds. 

Atol Shuco -- breakfast on the beach in El Salvador.

I'm enjoying a nice bowl of Atol Shuco (also spelled "Atol Chuco," and "Atol Shuko") at my beach hotel in the Southeastern-most corner of El Salvador. Shuco is one of the indigenous staples that Salvadorans never stopped eating. It's a massively nutritious dish for two reasons: 1) it's made with "black corn" that's made black by large quantities of polyphenols, so it's highly antioxidant-packed; and 2) it's fermented, so it's loaded with probiotics for healthy gut flora. 

For my breakfast, it's got ground roasted aihuashte (also called "aiguashte" or "pepitoria") on top, made from the ground seed (pepitas) of a Salvadoran pumpkin-like squash, which is common when taken for breakfast. Shuco is also eaten with beans and white "pan francés" (basically a white-bread roll) if you have it at night. 

People here make it at home. Rural Salvadorans eat it on their way to or from work, purchased from a street vendor.