What on earth is a pupusa?

A few years’ back when I lived in Central America I asked that very same question. The world has such a variety of amazing dishes; surely no one can hope to be familiar with them all…

Pupusas first showed up on my radar in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s a wonderful city, nestling amidst majestic volcanoes, and this is where my partner and I first set up home together in 2016. Antigua is everything you’d expect from the best of Central America: it’s culturally exciting, authentic, and the people are imbued with kindness and an incredible human warmth. All across this wonderful city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you’ll find small eateries offering tasty local snacks, with pupusas the true stars!

Near to the church La Merced ‘Our Lady of Mercy’, and the local farmers’ market was a small eaterie only open at lunchtime. This was to become the very first pupuseria I was lucky enough to visit. Just two wooden tables for customers, hosted by two Salvadorian women with warm, welcoming smiles inviting you in to what seemed like an extension of their own home kitchen. The menu was simple. Salvadorian pupusas: thick corn tortillas (naturally gluten free), stuffed with amazing savoury fillings.

They served pupusas with cheese, cheese and black beans, cheese and jalapeños, cheese and loroco (local edible flowers) and a few other options.

Great! We'll have three please!

Just 10 minutes’ later, a large platter arrives on our table: three pupusas stuffed with our chosen fillings, accompanied by a bowl of tangy, lightly-pickled shredded cabbage called curtido, and a tasty salsa to complement our dishes.

Noticing that I don’t know where to begin, one of our hosts shows me how to best enjoy this food. She takes a bit of pickled cabbage, places it on top of the pupusa, adds some salsa and invites me to take a bite.

I take my first bite… wow! They’re so good. The beautiful melted cheese, the heat from the jalapeños, the sharp crunchiness of the cabbage and the mellowness of the sauce which brings the whole dish together.

I’m a convert!

Pupusas are totally delicious!