Pupusas are essentially stuffed corn tortillas, but describing them this way downplays their specialness, sort of like saying the Mona Lisa is a picture of an Italian woman. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The fillings are great all on their own, but they're insinuated into a package of corn flour dough that has great flavor and texture. They remind me a bit of the Colombian arepas, which are made of masa and some of which have fresh cheese inside.
A few days later, this blog entry still isn't posted--and I have pupusas on the brain. So I told Himself to meet me at Pupuseria Del Valle in Burbank. One glance at the name, and there's no question as to their specialty. Himself agreed that these things are highly addictive. To the amusement of our server (I think she also cooked our meal, too), we ordered one of each of the seven types of pupusas offered on the menu: cheese; bean; revueltas again; zucchini again, although they call it Italian squash here; jalapeno; beef chorizo and cheese with loroco, another delicate flower. I can't name a favorite--they were all quite good. As for sampling any other foods, we just couldn't. We wanted to, but we succumbed to the lure of pupusas.
What can I say? This gringo was using a fork. Salvadorans eat these--curtido included--with their fingers.Pupusas traditionally are served with curtido, a spicy pickled cabbage and carrot slaw that reminds me a bit of kimchi, and what I hesitate to call tomato sauce, because it's nothing like what we Westerners think of as tomato sauce. The red bottle in the photo was filled with a thin sauce made of tomatoes and peppers. A healthy pinch of curtido and an equally healthy squirt of the tomato sauce on any pupusa elevates it beyond its usual snack-of-the-gods status.
Embarrassingly--and unhelpfully to this blog--we both om-nom-nommed with the abandon of stray cats at a fish market and realized after the fact that we'd not singled out the loroco to inspect, as I had the izote during the earlier meal. Loroco is a similar tiny white flower that grows in Central America and that's often tucked inside a pupusa. I promise to go back soon and order a couple of loroco pupusas and pay attention next time!
I want to explore the wealth of other dishes I know Salvadorian cuisine offers, but as with tacos, pupusas are so particular and so beloved that I think it only fair to give them their own blog entry. The rest can wait for another day. Unless I once again succumb to the pupusas.