Monday Meal Review: El Salvador

THE SCENE

My first mistake was getting out of bed.

My second? Thinking I could cook my way through El Salvador on a stomach bug.

There’s something inherently ridiculous about stumbling around the kitchen in pajamas, cooking enough food for a party, the very smell of which is hard to process, yet also insisting on taking photos for the world to see.

I mean, really.

And then, every fifteen minutes, I just had to call my mom about the latest weird gurgle coming from my stomach. She did a decent job of calming me down – she said it was all going to be ok, just eat some yogurt. You know, to help build up my tummy’s “live active cultures.”  Which sounded terrible, yuck, no good… but, hey, it works.

Hours later I’d survived El Salvador but – when the last pot was put away – I was pretty sure I’d never get out of bed again.

Eventually, however, I did get out of bed again.

Why?

To eat the leftovers. After all – stomach bug or not – the food was absolutely wonderful. Oh, and I missed playing with sweet Ava Marie.

THE FOOD

Cabbage Slaw (Curtido) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

While quick-pickled, this slaw remains fresh, thanks to the bright vinegary kick. The longer it sits, the better it tastes – especially because, as the days tick by, the red pepper flakes meld into the slaw, giving an even, barely-mild heat to the entire dish. The curtido hit its sweet spot around day 3. The acidic flavor is the perfect counter balance to mild pupusa.

What I liked least about this dish:

I’m a big fan. Mr. Picky – not so much, but that should be no surprise as he is almost as anti vinegar as I am pro vinegar. On another note, I should warn you that vinegar is not so great on an upset stomach. A few days later? A different story – Ava and I were chowing down on the stuff – we loved it.

Pupusa with quesilla [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

This was a fun snack to make. It was my first time working with masa harina and, wow, I love working with this flour. So easy – a dream really – simply add water and form with hands into ball. No fussing. No glue-like mess. No gluten. Nothing like finicky all-purpose flour.

What I liked least about this dish:

Figuring out the shaping technique takes some time. I recommend watching a few Youtube videos to get the hang of it. Martha Stewart has a good one which I shared on the recipe page. I did not make a video because, well, my skills never advanced past “total newb.” In general, I recommend making the pupusa a bit thinner than I did. You don’t want the pupusa to be too doughy – if it is, the flavor of the cheese gets lost in the corn-fest.

Atol (corn drink) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Salvadoran Atol is like drinking custard – creamy, and sweet. The cinnamon and corn combine to make a great, simple treat. I could see serving this on a cold autumn day, perhaps for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Ava was most definitely a fan.

What I liked least about this dish:

I think 1/2 cup sugar is too sweet. Always the sweetheart, Mr. Picky thought it was just right. I suggest starting with 1/4 cup and go from there. You can always add more, but you cannot take it away.

Salvadorian Quesadilla (Cake) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

I enjoyed the salty-sweet play of this unusual “coffee cake.” Super easy to throw together – it would make a great brunch or potluck treat. Just tell them it’s central american pound cake. Then after they have a bite, tell them what’s in it. They’ll be hooked for life. We are.

What I liked least about this dish

This is not diet food. You might as well go for a swim in butter, sour cream, sugar, and eggs. Although, this cake will taste better because of all the sugar.

Ava’s Corner

P.S.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

The Martins

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Comments

  1. Collette Lemons says:

    Pupusa – I used to make something like that with ham and cheese. Now I need to find the right flour and give it a go but with taco filling.

    I think it would be great to do the taco filling then cover it with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, onion and shredded cheese. The recipe seems pretty versatile.

    I could also see adding a little sugar to make the dough sweeter then adding honey inside then sprinkling with powdered sugar.

    Possibilities are endless.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I think you’re right – pupusa would be good with almost anything… although not sure about a dessert one. Report back if you do make them! :)

  2. I never tried masa harina, because it is so expensive in Europe. But on the other hand, it is much less expensive than a ticket to El Salvador, so I’ll buy it next time. Cooking with a bad bug requires serious dedication: I’m impressed! Glad to hear you are recovering.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes, “stovetop travel” is the cheapest way to get anywhere :) A 5 pound bag will last you a long time. I made the pupusas twice and still have 3/4 of the bag left.

  3. elisa waller says:

    your bed looks gloriously magnificant and totally plush…oh and the menu..fantastic!

  4. Hey,
    just to let you know, Martha Stewart’s video sucks.
    It has absolutely nothing to do with a pupusa.

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