My passion for cooking has led me to discover the gastronomic secrets of the most recondite places in several continents. Sometimes I have arrived by coincidence or by the threads of fate, sometimes through deliberate intention. In both cases, I have tried to take advantage of the opportunities and feed myself with each particular detail of the culinary knowledge that each country has offered me.
This is how I have come to know the secrets of Central American cuisine, after having lived more than four years in Nicaragua, following the work of my husband. From this wonderful country, full of lakes and volcanoes, super warm people and its contagious music, I learned that, for example, something as “monotonous” as the “frijoles colorados” (red beans) can surprise you with wonderful and particular recipes and for the most demanding palates. I confirmed how the simplicity of Gallo Pinto (rice with beans) manages to convince all children, no matter how old or how complicated it is at feeding time. I learned as well that “frijoles refritos” (refried beans) are the best appetizer, accompanied only with sour cream, Pico de Gallo and plantain banana chips. That the “Sopa de frijoles” “bean soup” is the best recipe in a rainy days. That the “repocheta de frijoles” is the ideal breakfast before a hard day at work. In brief, an ingredient that may seem so simple can be diversified into as many varieties as the diners’ demands.
Central American cuisine, where Nicaraguan cuisine is located, is a clear combination of its pre-Columbian past, where corn played a leading role and whose influence we can observe in today’s Nicaragua, as well as the Spanish gastronomic heritage that accompanied the conquerors and that allowed the whole region to develop an interesting mix of flavors and ingredients (those of their origins, those imported by the colonizers and those that have been added over the years) that have resulted in that great variety culinary.
Los hijos del maíz (Corn children)
The Central Americans and Mexico are known as “Los hijos del maíz” (Corn childrens), this is because the pre-Columbian indigenous people who dominated the region used corn as a fundamental base in the preparation of their food and this explains the gastronomic similarity in the Central American countries. From this heritage, the traditional dishes that we can find today in this charismatic Nicaragua definitely stand out. Such is the case of Chicha and Pinol, typical Nicaraguan drinks prepared with fermented corn and roasted corn respectively, the Nacatamal, Indio Viejo, Atolillo, Perrequeque, Tortillas and many etcetera.
During my time in Nicaragua I also learned to use ingredients such as Sour Cream, practically unknown at that time in my native Dominican Republic and that there is no Nicaraguan who can live without it. I met new fruits, as is the case of the Pitaya, that majestic fruit that impresses you with its particular surface full of spines, but at the same time it hypnotizes you with its brilliant purple color, unique. In Nicaragua, this fruit is prepared as juice to refresh the hot afternoons of May, it is also prepared as ice cream, whose color and taste you end up falling in love with. I also got to know the Flor de Jamaica, which Nicaraguans prepare as it cools down you in summer and they always have it in their fridge to offer to the thirsty guests. It is one of the Nicaraguan heritages that accompany me until to this day. The consumption of the Flower of Jamaica has endless positive effects on the body, the main one on the list being its diuretic effect.
I also knew la cuajada, el pinol, la güirila, el tamal, el vigorón, el Caballo Bayo, los Maduros en Gloria, el baho, el Queso Quesillo and a very long list of flavors. Recipes that, as far as possible, I will add to my list on this website to show you the culinary richness of this wonderful and unforgettable country.
In Nicaragua I also started to get passionate about hot peppers, since in my country it is not habitual. When I arrived in Nicaragua, I gradually trained my palate for future culinary experiences, those that I will tell you later on and that are part of my gastronomic map.
Nicaragua was the base that allowed me to get closer to the gastronomy of neighboring countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama, which, although they have many aspects in common in their cuisine, also have their differences very noticeable.
From Nicaragua I also had my first approach to Mexican cuisine, from good friends proud of their culinary heritage. I met, through them dishes as Pozole, Mole, Enchiladas, Chilaquiles, Tacos and Quesadillas, all in the midst of the melodious guitar notes of the greatest Mexican representative living in Managua (at least the proudest of its roots 😉).
Although, I repeat, they have their marked differences, it is obvious that the Central American culture (and with it its gastronomy) has a lot of influence from Mexico. You can notice it not only in the music of the mariachis at almost all the parties, but also in the use of red beans, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, sour cream, chile and a large list of etcetera.
Join me on this gastronomic journey inside these majestic and ancient culinary cultures and I will teach you little by little what I have been learning from each of them. Their similarities and differences, but above all the culinary riches of each of these wonderful countries!