CENTRAL AMERICA FOOD TRIP

If you ask someone if they know any food from Central America, I am sure their answer will be limited to tortillas, beans, and tacos. It is not surprising, as these dishes are often labeled as the representatives of Latin food. However, it is more diverse than that! I visited all Central American countries and tasted a lot of delicious local food. Some of them share the same cuisine, but the manner of preparation is different that it can be considered a new dish in itself.

Let me show you all the delicious treats I tasted in all 7 Central American countries I traveled to.


LIST OF CENTRAL AMERICA FOOD I TASTED

GUATEMALA

Tostada y Taquitos

When I was in Flores, there was this food stall at the entrance bridge selling a variety of local Guatemalan street food.  I ate there almost every day that the ladies became familiar with me and were giving me heaping portions of food. I always ordered the tostadas and taquitos, which can be combined with a variety of toppings such as chow mein, picado de carne, buche, ensalada, and many others.

Jocón

This typical Mayan dish is a chicken-based stew cooked in a tomatillo and cilantro based sauce. I tried it in a local restaurant in Antigua and it was a special dish served only during weekends. The flavor is mild and herby, with a sweet aftertaste.

Pepián

This is considered as one of Guatemala’s oldest cuisine, dating back to pre-hispanic times. It is a stew made of a variety of roasted spices, which gives it a bitter aftertaste. I tried this dish in Antigua, but you can find it almost everywhere in Guatemala.

BELIZE

Belizean chicken stew

This was the first meal I tried when I arrived in San Ignacio. It is a very traditional stew that has a Carribean-flair, owing to the fact that it is made with coconut milk and other ingredients typical of the Carribean. It is usually served with rice and beans, another Belizean staple.

Fried jacks

This is a classic breakfast food sold everywhere in Belize. It is made of fried dough filled with refried beans, chicken, cheese, and other yummy ingredients, and then normally eaten with an extremely spicy chili sauce. It tasted so good that I ate it whenever I can when I was in Belize.

EL SALVADOR

Pupusa

This can be considered as the national food of El Salvador and it is sold all over the pupuserias in the country. It is pancake-like dough typically made of rice or corn flour, then filled with various ingredients ranging from chicharron, refried beans, chicken, cheese, shrimp, and many more. It is served with curtido – a spicy cabbage pickle. This is my personal favorite in Central America and I eat this whenever I can. I always order chicken filled pupusa and I can devour at least 3 pieces per meal.

Yuca frita con chicharron y pescadita

This meal is made of yucca (cassava) served fried or mashed, then topped with chicharron (pork cracklings) and pescaditas (dried fish). This dish is the closest to my heart because of the chicharron and dried fish – both ingredients also common in the Philippines. I first tasted it when I visited Ataco.

Atol chuco

This local dish is a thick soupy substance made of masa de maiz, water, salt, alguashte, and sometimes with beans. It tastes a bit salty/mealy and is very heavy in the stomach.

HONDURAS

Yuca con chicharron

The difference between Honduran and Salvadorean version is that the Honduras version is boiled, while the Salvadorean version is fried/mashed ( based on what I tasted). The Honduran version came with chicharron and an onion-tomato based salad. It was cheap and filling and kept me alive when everything else was closed in Tegucigalpa during my stay.

COSTA RICA

Casado

It is a typical Costa Rican plate comprising of a meat dish, salad, rice and beans, and plantain. This is a complete meal that can be found in almost every canteen in the country.

Chifrijo

Chifrijo named after the following ingredients: CHICHARRON, CHIMICHURRI, and FRIJOLES. It comes with nacho chips and rice, so it is really heavy on the stomach. The version I ordered was so flavorful that I ate everything on the plate.

Rice and beans

I did not personally order this, but I was able to taste it. It is a dish served with coconut milk and Chile Panameño. It was sweet and also has a curry-like flavor, which blended well with the chicken and sweet banana dish included in the meal.

Chumi

This is a Costa Rican dessert similar to a snow cone served in a cup. It is then flavored with flavored syrup, condensed milk, milk powder, and marshmallow. I ordered crema while my friend ordered Chiclet flavor (which I find extremely disgusting). This dessert is too sweet for me, and I constantly added water to tone down the sweetness.

NICARAGUA

Gallo pinto

It is another version of Rice and Beans and usually comes in a variety of meat, vegetable, and tajada. I always ate this meal in Nicaragua – almost everyone sold it cheaply and it can really fill you up fast.

Güirilas

This dish is made of white corn masa tortilla filled with white cheese and/or meat, then grilled in a banana leaf, finally slathered with a creamy, cheesy sauce. I ordered the meat version and I liked it. What made it different from other similar dishes like pupusa and arepa is that the sauce of Guirila is creamier and sweeter, while pupusa is more acidic, and arepa more mealy.

PANAMA

Lechona guisado, Tamales Panameño, y Platano de Tentación

It was hard to find a restaurant in Panama City that serves authentic Panamanian food, so when a friend invited me to one, I immediately said yes. Lechona is a pork dish cooked for hours in a special sauce, while Tamales Panameño is almost has a pureed potato consistency, not like the tamales of other countries. Lastly, Platano en Tentacion is a plantain dish cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon. These 3 combines really well and the contrasting flavors make it a good dish.

Pescado frito a lo macho, arroz de guandu, y patacones

This was a dish I tasted after touring Panama with my friends. It is a Corvina topped with a mixture of seafood sauce and served with arroz de guandu and patacones (fried plantain). It was memorable for me because I have not eaten seafood for the longest time prior to eating that meal, so it reminded me a bit of home after tasting it.

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