If there is truly a case of a single thing dictating a date night destination, this is it. Coming in, I knew basically nothing about El Salvador, outside of it leading the world in murders per capita. Oh, and pupusas. Pupusas, one of my favorite foods, light and fluffy, filled with yumminess and griddled to perfection. So naturally, I wanted to try to make them. Hence, Salvadoran date night. Makes sense, right?
Salvadoran-Themed Date Night
Eat: Pupusas and Curtido; Quesadilla
Pupusas are the national dish of El Salvador. Basically a corn meal pancake stuffed with something (cheese, beans, meat, greens), they are the one thing I’d ever eaten of the country, and can be found all over Central America. (Like many travelers, I’ve been most places in Central America, but skipped El Salvador due to safety concerns.) The dough is pretty much just masa, salt, and water, and is formed into a disk in one’s hands, filled, and then flipped back and forth between hands until flattened. A took care of this task, while I griddled the finished products. We stuffed ours with beans, spinach, and cheese, and they came out decently for a first effort. They were a bit dry, as we were afraid of overfilling them, but the flavor was great. If you choose to make some, don’t be afraid to fill them more. If some filling comes out on the griddle, it’s ok. We served them with El Salvador’s famous slaw, curtido. Simple cabbage and carrots are shredded with oregano, and lightly pickled in water, salt, sugar, and a bit of hot sauce. It’s a great accompaniment!
Pupusas with curtido
In El Salvador, a quesadilla isn’t a tortilla with cheese. It’s a cake made of rice flour and basically every dairy element out there (cotija, cottage cheese, milk, cream, sour cream, and more). Sweetened with sugar, it still eats quite savory on its own, and reminds me more of a breakfast danish. But add some raspberry jam or honey and the sweetness really plays up.
Learn: A Quick History of El Salvador
The advantage of knowing nothing of a country is that there is much to learn. This animated video provided a basic outline into the history of the country. It’s a pretty dark history.
Experience: The Best of El Salvador
Never having even planned an imaginary future trip to El Salvador, I couldn’t even tell you what there is to do or see there. Obviously eat pupusas, but then what? Well, I found this really well done video from some fellow world travelers that explores some highlights. Did it make me want to rush onto a plane to visit? No. But did it make me want to see the place one day? Yeah, it did. And seriously, check out some of those buildings in San Salvador!
This was the view from one of their meals. Solid, no?
In our brief history of El Salvador, we heard of Saint Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated after speaking out against governmental tyranny. This film was made decades ago about his life, well before he was beatified and canonized. It’s disturbing, but so is the story, and so were the times. I give it a solid 7/10. (I realize most people would choose to watch Salvador with James Woods, but I can’t support someone with his political and “moral” views.)
Oscar Romero as seen in the film
So there you have it: Salvadoran Date Night. I hope this inspires you to dedicate an evening to a tiny corner of Central America. I also hope your pupusas come out better than mine did!
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