Day 97: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
In Nicaragua food was unexpectedly good and yet different from other Central American countries.
Immediately I noticed that refried beans were replaced with gallo pinto, and cabbage and yucca were much more prevalent. With an obvious absence of American fast food chains I was able to easily find great food in Nicaragua:
Excited to see the Nicaraguan take on tamales, I previously dedicated an entire post about them.
They are corn-based like Mexican tamales but they are not homogeneous as each bite may contain a number of ingredients from green peppers to olives, raisins and chiles.
A mixture of rice and beans (appearing above in breakfast), most Nicaraguans eat this almost daily and it is considered a national symbol.
It’s delicious but I ate this so often that after a few weeks I asked if I could have my rice and beans “separado” for some variety.
Originally from Granada, you can find this everywhere from street vendors to house parties. Traditionally a plate is covered with a part of a plantain tree leaf, then topped with yucca, pork, chicharrón (fried) and a cabbage and tomato salad.
Although I’m a pork lover and pork on pork sounds amazing, I have to admit I don’t really like chicharrón as it seems too salty and crunchy.
Hardly unique to Nicaragua, but they do make a mean hamburger and for a dollar its hard to pass one up on the streets of Leon.
Oscar insisted there was only one good place to eat them, which was actual steak as the ground beef ones are often mixed with filler; but whatever that filler is, it’s tasty.
Originally from León, it’s a simple dish but so tasty that restaurants are dedicated to selling only quesillos. They say that the best are found on the highway between Managua and Leon, but I had them and did not notice a difference from those sold on the street in Leon.
A piece of cheese (which is named quesillo) is placed on a tortilla. Pickled onions, cream and salt are added to the top. My advice would be to ask for “poco crema” as they are unnecessarily generous with the cream.
You can also get these rolled up and in a plastic bag, as we did for my 33rd birthday, a nice added touch was the chile sauce our vendor added which cut the excess cream flavour.