How to Win a Salvadoreño’s Corazón

So, you’re a gringa (or gringo!) and you’ve fallen in love with a cute Salvadoran. Hey, it happens. But now how do you win his or her corazón? … Two words… “plato típico.”

“Plato típico” [typical dish] can refer to any traditional meal, but this is the “Plato típico” for “desayuno” [breakfast.] A typical breakfast in El Salvador usually consists of thick handmade corn tortillas, huevos picados [scrambled eggs], frijoles molidos [pureed beans], platanos fritos [fried plantains], and crema [sour cream.] … this meal is usually served with coffee.

Here are the recipes you need to make a typical Salvadoran breakfast.

Tortillas

Simply purchase a bag of corn flour for tortillas and follow the directions on the bag. The most commonly used brand is MASECA. Salvadoran tortillas are typically formed in the hand and patted back and forth before being placed on a comal [griddle.] Salvadoran tortillas are usually thicker than store-bought tortillas and are not formed using a tortilla press.

Huevos Picados [Scrambled Eggs]

Beat eggs in a bowl with a little salt. Stirring often, in a pan greased with oil or butter, cook until fluffy. (Some people add chopped tomato and onion.)

Crema [Cream]

If you can’t find Salvadoran crema, any full fat sour cream will do. (We like Daisy brand sour cream.)

Frijoles Molidos [Pureed Beans]

If you can’t find Frijoles Rojos Salvadoreños, [Salvadoran Red Beans] – you can use any small red or black beans. You will have to cook the beans the day before if using dry beans. Cook following standard directions, but add to the water 2 green onions and some garlic for flavor. (Do not add salt until after they’re cooked or they’ll be hard.)

The next day, cook beans with a few spoonfuls of lard, oil or butter. Put into a blender with some of the bean water (reserved from boiling the day before.) Blend until smooth. Heat again, adding salt to taste.

If using canned beans, simply drain, cook with a spoonful of minced garlic, and a few spoonfuls of lard, oil or butter. Put into a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little oil or melted butter if the mixture is too dry and the blender blades won’t move. Add salt to taste.

Platanos Fritos [Fried Plantains]

Choose plantains that are yellow with black markings – this means they’re ripe. You don’t want them to be really black (too ripe/mushy), but you don’t want them plain yellow or green, (they’ll be hard and not sweet enough).

Remove peel with a knife by splitting it open and peeling off. Cut plantain in half width-wise. Cut each half into three pieces. (Alternately, you can cut the entire thing into circles.) Fry in a little oil until browned on each side.

___

Arrange on a plate, serve with coffee.

Watch him fall in love.

Posted on April 2, 2011, in amor, food/drink, recipes, Salvadoreños and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. @jdgastolomendo

    Tracy,
    Thanks for sharing a recipe to win a Salvadoran’s heart. Would like to share feedback regarding the way it was presented, if you don’t mind a bit of critique. “[Y]ou’re a gringa and you’ve fallen in love with a cute Salvadoran” is a cute start as it reflects your experience though it then should have read, “Being a gringa when I fell in love with a cute Salvadoran …”
    Assuming that you were not intending on portraying heterosexist beliefs or prescribing to traditional gender roles; I would suggest considering how-to’s to be more inclusive of various experiences. For example, it would be perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, that a gringo would want to cook such a dish for his Salvadoran girlfriend. Or if a gay gringo/a wanted to impress their Salvadoran same-sex partner with such a dish. I enjoy your writing, particularly as you contemplate your own privileges around race, ethnicity and nationality, and the power of language and words. Therefore, I ask you to consider other privileges that are easily taken for granted, such as the freedom to a state-recognized marriage which currently bi-national same-sex couples do not have at this time.
    Best regards,
    JD

    • JD – Thanks for your feedback. Of course anyone is welcome to use the recipes no matter their race, sex or sexual orientation.

      I wanted to use a fun, casual tone and though I understand, respect and even totally agree with you from a moral perspective – from a writer’s perspective, I can’t bog down my writing making sure that every combination of couple is covered.

      You suggested I use “Being a gringa when I fell in love with a cute Salvadoran” — but I did not use first person purposefully. This was supposed to be a friendly instructional rather than relating my own experience… My husband actually fell in love with me long before I learned to cook Salvadoran food — I just wanted to give anyone else out there (male/female/gringa/gringo/gay/straight/otherwise) a way to impress their Salvadoran crush (male/female/gay/straight/otherwise.)

      :) Thanks again for your honesty though. What you had to say is important and very thought-provoking. Abrazos!

      • I think it’s kind of splitting hairs. This is your blog and readers are delighted to hear about YOUR experiences…I know I am! The best thing about reading blogs is that we get an insiders perspective on that persons particular experiences. I’m married to a Tejano, I’m White, I’m political-minded, I’m into activism and social media…you get all that when you come to my blog…and then some. Coming to your blog Tracy, we know we can expect to hear about a GringaLatina who’s fallen in love with all things Salvadoran and adores her feisty suegrita, chulito hubby, and awesome kids! Love what you’re doing here! It’s a perspective that so many of us out here in the blogosphere can connect to. =)

      • Chantilly – thanks for your kind comment. I agree that our blogs are our own and as such, reflect our own voices — but JD does have a point and he’s given me something to think about. (I also admire the respectful way in which he brought the topic to the table.)

        It’s easy to forget that one’s audience, (the majority of whom read but don’t comment), is much more diverse than perhaps the original target audience.

        I’m not famous or anything, but I get decent blog traffic in my opinion, and when one is given a soapbox to stand up on, I think there’s something altruistic in using that platform once in awhile to give a voice to those who aren’t usually heard. Even you yourself say you’re political-minded and into activism – and I have seen you quite often speak up for causes on your blog.

        I’m likewise the kind of person who cares very much about human rights. My thoughts are often on marginalized segments of society and those who don’t have fair equal rights – immigrants and women – and I’ve blogged about that… but I will admit that while I support gay rights, I don’t give their struggle as much thought. That’s obvious now, looking at my blog post and how I so casually aimed it at only gringas cooking for Salvadoran men – when there are certainly other couple combinations out there who would enjoy this post and maybe felt just a tinge of exclusion by the way I narrowed it down. This is the language of privilege, and something I’m very aware of with the color of my skin — but less so as a heterosexual in a “traditional” relationship. Just as fair-skinned people “enjoy” privilege in our society over others, (whether that privilege is desired or not – it is your birthright unfortunately) — Heterosexual couples “enjoy” privileges that homosexual couples do not. Maybe interracial couples are a little more self-aware than same race couples, but we still have it easier. Our love is recognized by law, (at least these days though that wasn’t the case for past generations.) —- Our fight was fought for us with the civil rights movement… but homosexual couples are still fighting – and I support that fight.

        JD has started an important conversation and I’m giving it much thought. Maybe it seems like just semantics, and on the surface, yes, I could agree with you that it’s splitting hairs – but in the end, it was a good way to start this discussion and I appreciate that he trusted me enough through reading my blog to know that I would treat his critique seriously.

        That being said, I also appreciate that you cared enough to reassure me. My readers and friends are the very best. Mucho amor to you amiga :)

    • Just wanted to let you know, after some thought, I made a very slight change to the post intro :)

  2. Gorgeous recipe. I am impressed by your cooking skills, and you have won my heart, too! ¡Que rico se ve el plato! Mmmmh.

  3. i like this post… really want to eat it infact… whenever i get back home from all the chaoticness of my life i will have to try!

  4. that looks yummy!! I wish I had time to make a breakfast like that in the mornings!! mine is usually a breakfast smoothie so I can drink it while chasing the baby around the house!

  5. Looks delicious, especially the fried plantains! A platillo tipico is also the quickest way to a Mexicano’s heart. :) Funny thing though is that my Mexicano prefers a southern breakfast plate of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, biscuits and gravy. :)

    • Mmm, that sounds good too… There’s a commercial on TV lately advertising chicken and waffles. I think that’s a Southern thing? No? Sounds like an odd combo but I would definitely try it. LOL.

  6. You should taste las empanadas salteñas.

  7. Chris Estrada

    How to win a Salvadoreño’s hearth with litterature: give him as a gift one or two of the following contemporary novels: “El valle de las hamacas” (Manlio Argueta), “Pobrecito poeta que era yo” (Roque Dalton), “Jaraguá” (Napoleón Rodríguez Ruiz), “Cenizas de Izalco” (Claribel Alegría) o “Luz negra” (Álvaro Menéndez Leal). Ok, ok, the last one is not precisely a novel, but it’s a classic. Serve with rum. Watch him/her grow up culturaly and intellectualy. Kiss and good night.
    (Thanks for the tip, my wife has a lot of work to do!).

    • Ah! If only my Carlos liked to read. I push books on him once in awhile, (I got him to read the first chapter of La Sombra del Viento last month!) – but poetry is probably asking too much – just not his thing, (unless I wrote it and it’s about him.) jijiji… I will definitely be adding these to my list though, (already a fan of Dalton and Alegría, but the others are new names to me.)

  8. The ‘hey, it happens’ part at the top of the article killed me. LOL!!!

  9. looks sooooo goood

  10. Wow, what a wonderful picture. It looks so tasty, I just want to dig in. I feel so gringo when I get this platter, I’m not sure how to eat it. What’s the typical fashion? Make an egg tortilla?

    • Hi Bob! Thanks for the nice comment. As for eating this in the typical fashion – there’s not one really “right way” to eat it. Everyone has their own preferences for how they mix and match the elements on the plate.

      I can tell you that this dish is eaten both with your hands and a fork. You can rip pieces of tortilla off with your hands and scoop up some eggs and/or frijoles. With the edge of your fork, you can cut a piece of the platano off and swipe it through the crema and/or frijoles on its way to your mouth :)

      As for making tacos out of the options on the plate – that is not a “typical” Salvadoran thing to do but my 10 year old does it all the time. (If he has tortillas at his disposal, he’ll turn anything into a taco. LOL)… As long as you enjoy the food and thank whoever cooked it, I don’t think any Salvadoran will care how you eat it :)

      • Thanks! That combo definitely makes more sense than a taco, especially from a Salvadoran palate standpoint. The taste at first was quite a shock for me at first since American food always tastes so sweet. I never realized that until my GF told me, “the bread, it’s too sweet!”

        I finally drug myself to the store today and bought some harina de maiz… I have never been good with anything involving a flour.. but I must practice. .

        Thank you for your super site! I stumbled upon your site while searching for plato tipico. I have enjoyed it so much with so much humor and the truisms. I am finding out a lot about myself being drawn to Central America and chuckling over the things I noticed while I dated a Salvadoran.

      • The “too sweet” thing is hilarious. My husband has made this complaint on occasion but my mother-in-law seemed to think everything I made was too sweet, including things you wouldn’t even think of as “sweet” like spaghetti sauce! … (And I used to complain that her cookies had no flavor/were too bland LOL.) … Over the years both my husband and I have adjusted. He likes some sweeter things, and I’ve realized how sickeningly sweet a lot of American food is and have cut back – as a result, my taste buds got used to less sugar.

        Good luck making your tortillas. Don’t be afraid! Just put some in a bowl and add water, mix by hand, adding water as needed until it’s like slightly wet Play-doh. Shaping them into patties by hand takes some practice but you’ll get the hang of it. Just make a ball, slightly larger than a golf ball but not as big as a baseball, then press between your hands, back and forth, trying to keep the edges round as you go. (If you see cracks around the edges then your dough is too dry – add more water to it.)

        The tortillas cook for a few minutes on each side over medium heat – on a comal (griddle) if you have one – if not, a large frying pan will do.

        Good luck and thanks so much for your kind words about my blog. Bienvenido!

  11. I loved reading your post and all the comments…from a Hawaii born girl married over 12 years to a guanaco :)

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