Screen grab from Google Street level map
A while back I read online about the Salvadoran street food called pupusas and was mightily intrigued. Not long after, on my way to teach my writing class, saw this modest little restaurant called Pupuseria Patty. The following week, I stopped.
It's a tiny place next to a Sunoco station. There are maybe four booths and two women behind the counter. I ordered the pork and cheese pupusas which came with some mild red sauce and a side of a slaw-like salad called curtido.
The pupusas were made while I waited -- masa harina dough surrounding the cheese and flavorful pork, patted into a fat round cake, and cooked on a hot griddle till the dough is fluffy and fragrant.
The taste is wonderful! And, oddly, it's the corn meal that is the star. The meat and cheese are good, to be sure, but the intense corn meal flavor of the pupusa is what made me buy a bag of masa harina the next time I went to the store.
And then I went online in search of recipes. The one I (more or less) followed is HERE.
I found also a video, showing forming the dough into balls, which you then poke and pat into a bowl shape, into which you put the filling, then pull the sides over the top to close, and finally, flatten the pupusa and cook.
There's a lot involved. I cooked the pork shoulder in a slow cooker, chunked off as much as I thought I'd need, reduced it to small pieces, and fried it. (Beans and cheese or cheese alone are also traditional fillings.) The slaw I made early in the day -- another time I'll make it several days ahead -- it's said to get even better as it marinates.
Since the pupusas I'd enjoyed so much were hot off the griddle, I wanted mine to be the same way. That meant adopting a casual dinner mode -- John and Justin and Josie (Claui was at work) sitting in the kitchen with curtido and red sauce at hand, eating the goodies as quickly as they were formed and cooked.
I left some formed but uncooked so Justin could fix them for Claui when she got home. He reported that they were just as good.
So next time -- and there will definitely be a next time, --I'll form all the pupusas ahead of time. We'll still probably sit in the kitchen and snap them up hot and hot.
(After writing the above, last night I stopped again for pupusas -- purely for research, you understand. I watched as they were made and realized that, next time, I need more water in the masa. Also, the pork and cheese were mixed together before putting into the dough -- in proportions of about two parts cheese to one part meat. The whole mixture was moist enough to hold together in a ball. So I'll give it another go.)
In the course of my online research I also encountered Mexican gorditas and Colombian arepas -- similar to pupusas but different. The hunger for knowledge and ethnic food continues!