There we were, strolling through an antique flea market under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, when K said " let's have some Pupusas" .
Pupusa ? What on earth is a PUPUSA ? And why have I never heard of it, me the self-proclaimed Foodie Geek, Gourmand and GastroExplorer me ?? It turns out that I still have a lot to learn. El Salvador, and for that matter Central America, had till that moment remained uncharted in my culinary map. I am happy to report that it is no longer so.
Finding the Pupusas was easy. We just went to the most crowded spot in the market where a family from The Dominican Republic ( or so it said on a little sign) was doling out the good Salvadoran stuff from a rickety wooden stand heaving with food. We packed a box of the goodies, sat ourselves on the steps surrounded by hip Brooklynites with babies in designer strollers, and polished off the contents in no time.
Photo courtesy http://inspiredbites.blogspot.com
Nice juicy Tamales, fried plantains - sticky and sweet, and a dollop of rice and beans. And the Pupusas: thick hand-made flatbreads stuffed with pork and cheese and lightly fried , and served hot with a topping of salsa and spicy cabbage. Earthy, comforting and delicious. Impossible to stop with one.
These little fried discs are so popular in Central and South America that there's even a " NATIONAL PUPUSA DAY" ( November 13) in El Salvador ! Made of a Latin American maize flour called Masa Harina, Pupusas come with different stuffings like pork rind, bacon, refried beans, quesilo cheese, zucchini and have different variants in Honduras, Venezuela, Costa Rica. I am not sure which version I had in Brooklyn that day but it sure was yummy and it sure has got me hooked.
Photo courtesy http://viji-ny.blogspot.com
The closest comparison I can think of - not that I really need to think of comparisons here - is the Indian Keema Paratha. Pupusas are rounder, smaller, thicker and less greasy and less heavy . And of course the stuffings are completely different,, so the comparison is a bit redundant. But the texture and the comfort food factor is perhaps why I was reminded of the Keema Paratha. But I digress.
Happy Bottomline: Great introduction to Salvadoran Pupusas, served by Dominicans, eaten with Americans, under the Manhattan Bridge, on a gorgeous sunny day in Brooklyn.
What else is good at the Brooklyn Flea market ? Frank Bruni's Journal in the NYT http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/the-persecuted-pupusa/Where else to get great Pupusas in the United States ? Chowhounds reveal their favourite Pupuserias