Category Archives: humor

Madagascar Culo


I’m trying to kick off “El Verano de Español” (Spanish Summer) a little early this year and yesterday I made a very concentrated effort to stick to Spanish with the boys.

I’m not sure what happened this year. At one point I was in the habit of speaking Spanish with the kids the majority of the day, then one day I realized I was speaking a lot of English to them and had been for some time. Each night I went to bed feeling guilty, promising I’d go cold turkey the next day but I’d wake up exhausted and forcing my brain to stay in Spanish was like trying to baptize a cat.

Anyway, Friday I managed to speak to the boys in mostly Spanish and they even responded to me in Spanish several times. To keep the momentum going, after dinner I decided we’d watch a movie in Spanish together, having recently discovered a bunch of bootleg DVDs from El Salvador I had forgotten we own. (To be very clear: We didn’t purchase these DVDs and haven’t even watched them – they were sent as gifts from one of Carlos’ tíos many years ago.)

My younger son popped some popcorn and I put the DVD for Madagascar in. Here’s a little video I made about the surprises that awaited us. (And as hilarious as this was to me, let this be a word of warning for anyone buying bootleg DVDs for their kids in El Salvador… They aren’t exactly rated G! This may be a good reason to buy the real thing.)

Ah yes… Spanish Summer is off to an excellent start.

Helado y La Lambada

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Flickr user .imelda

Image source: Flickr user .imelda

Yo estaba trabajando en la yarda cuando escuché el camión de helados en la calle. Paré y escuché. La canción me sonaba muy familiar y no fue “Pop Goes the Weasel” – (una canción común utilizado por los camiones de helados en los Estados Unidos.)

Empecé a cantar a mí misma … “Llorando se fue la que un día me hizo llorar…” – Qué qué?! Pero, estos son las letras de la canción de “Taboo” por Don Omar! … Cuando me di cuenta de que el camión estaba tocando La Lambada, (que Don Omar utilizó en su canción), agarré mi teléfono celular y tomé vídeo cuando el camión se fue saliendo de mi barrio. Chécalo!


Ice Cream and The Lambada

I was outside working in the yard when I heard the ice cream truck in the street. I stopped and listened. The song sounded familiar but it wasn’t “Pop Goes the Weasel” – (a common song used by ice cream trucks in the United States.)

I started to sing to myself… “Llorando se fue la que un día me hizo llorar…” – What in the world?! But these were the lyrics to the song “Taboo” by Don Omar!… When I realized the truck was playing The Lambada, (which Don Omar sampled in his song), I grabbed my cellphone and took video as the ice cream truck was leaving the neighborhood. Check it out!

Cinco de Mayo Means Bring on the Stereotypes

For the most part I’m not the kind of person to be easily offended by stereotypes. Life is too short and there are way too many ways to be offended by things that aren’t politically correct. It’s difficult to say why one thing doesn’t bother me, but something else gets under my skin.

For example, the whole Mexican Barbie thing? If I were a little girl, I’d love to have that Barbie, and if I had a daughter, I’d buy it for her. I think it’s awesome that she has a passport, and all the dolls in the collection do. Her dark wavy hair is so pretty and being a brunette myself, I always favored dark-haired Barbies over the blondes. The ballet folklorico dress is nice although it could be more detailed, and the Chihuahua, well, I think that may have been a lazy decision, (isn’t the Xoloitzcuintli the national dog of Mexico?) – but all that being said, I’m not offended by the doll.

Really, my only major problem with Mattel’s Dolls of the World collection, (besides my usual complaints about Barbies contributing to unrealistic body ideals), is that they stuck with many of the same countries that are already represented in these types of toy lines. When will we teach kids about lesser known countries? Ask any kid in the United States to name a country that speaks Spanish and you’re almost guaranteed they’ll say “Mexico.” … In other words, when will we see a Salvadoran Barbie? (Or Honduran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Panamanian… you get the idea.)

Image source: LShave

Image source: LShave

If Mattel needs help designing the Salvadoran Barbie, I’m available. Imagine the colorful dress, the leather chancletas, maybe a cántaro or a bouquet of Flor de Izote. You could have a cachiporra version with a bastón, and a vendedora version in a delantal that comes with a comal full of pupusas. How about a Salvadoran version of the Ken doll? He could wear traditional dress with a scapular and a cowboy hat – he could carry a capirucho or maybe a modern version sporting una camiseta de La Selecta and holding a Pilsener. (Okay, maybe not.)

Speaking of beer, Cinco de Mayo is fast upon us which means every Mexican beer, tortilla chip, and salsa company is gearing up to bring in the pesos. Here is a display for Corona which I spotted at a Wal-Mart.



As I was saying, for the most part I’m not the kind of person to be easily offended by stereotypes, (they’re somewhat necessary to understanding the world we live in), and this doesn’t really offend me as much as it makes me roll my eyes. However, this stereotype of Mexicans – sombrero, sarape or poncho, and burro, (although I guess Corona decided to get “creative” and use a horse?) is getting a little old, isn’t it? Besides, they totally forgot the big mustache and the cactus for nap time after the fiesta is over.

10 Vídeos Inspiradores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!


Ya saben que me encanta buscar vídeos interesantes y divertidos en YouTube, pero aquí hay unos vídeos que encontré recientemente que me inspiran y quiero compartir los con ustedes. Hay algo para todos. Disfruten!

You guys already know that I love finding interesting and amusing videos on YouTube, but here are some videos I found recently that inspire me and that I want to share with you. There’s something for everyone. Enjoy!

#1. Este video se llama “Neymar humillado por peruano” pero no creo que fue humillado Neymar. Es sólo diversión amigable, y “el peruano” es muy talentoso.

This video is called “Neymar humiliated by a Peruvian” but I don’t think he was humiliated. It’s all in good fun, and “the Peruvian” is very talented.

#2. “A Shop in El Salvador Feb. 2013″ – Qué lindo el sonido de estas flautas, tocadas por un tendero en El Salvador.

How beautiful the sound of these flutes, played by a shopkeeper in El Salvador.

#3. “El tortillero de San Marcos, El Salvador” – Me encanta esta video de un tortillero en El Salvador. (¡Sí! Un hombre que puede hacer tortillas – su historia es muy interesante.)

I love this video of a male tortilla maker in El Salvador. (Yes! A man who can make tortillas – his story is really interesting.)

#4. “The Two Sides of Playa El Tunco, El Salvador” – Este video muestra los dos lados de la Playa El Tunco – la vida de turistas que disfrutan de la playa y la vida de la gente humilde que vive allá.

This video shows the two sides of Playa El Tunco – the lives of tourists who enjoy the beach and the the lives of the humble people who live there.

#5. “Calle 13 – La Vuelta al Mundo” – Super linda canción, linda letra, lindo vídeo y lindo el mensaje. Me encanta Calle 13.

Super nice song, nice lyrics, nice video, nice message. I love Calle 13.

#6. “Niña de 6 años cocinando – Ana Victoria” – Me encanta que puede cocinar este niñita y que está practicando su español con su mami. (Gracias a Trisha Ruth por compartir el vídeo conmigo.)

I love that this little girl can cook and is practicing her Spanish with her mother. (Thanks to Trisha Ruth for sharing this video with me.)

#7. “Lazaro Arbos Auditions – American Idol Season 12″ – Este muchacho se llama Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro es un inmigrante Cubano y a pesar de que tiene un tartamudeo, no afecta su capacidad de cantar en American Idol.

This young man is named Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro is a Cuban immigrant and despite having a stutter, it does not affect his ability to sing on American Idol.

#8. “Corto Niños Vallenatos” – ¡Talentosos esos niños que tocan música en Colombia!

These kids who play music in Colombia are so talented!

#9. “El Cajero de la felicidad” – A veces las empresas grandes pueden tener un gran impacto en una forma significativa.

Sometimes big companies can make a big impact in a meaningful way.

#10. “Cumpleaños de una habitante de la calle en el centro de Bogotá” – La señora vive en la calle, pero no importa – es su cumpleaños y un joven insiste que lo celebre.

The woman lives on the street, but it doesn’t matter – it’s her birthday and a young man insists that she celebrates.

¿Cuál vídeo te gusto más? Por qué? … Which video did you like most? Why?

Conversations at Casa López – Part 2

It’s that time again. As I mentioned in the first edition of “Conversations at Casa López” – there is usually at least one funny conversation in our bilingual household each day. You know how when older people get mixed up and say, “Sorry, I’m having a senior moment”? Well, I call these “bilingual moments” and I’ve been writing them down the past few months to share with you. Here we go!

Me: Dame un cucharo por favor.
Carlos: {laughing} What?
Me: The knife, give me the knife.
Carlos: Cuchillo.
Me: I swear I knew that.


[Talking about a friend he's unhappy with.]

Carlos: He fell off the motorcycle.
Me: What motorcycle? What?
Carlos: Don’t you say that in English?
Me: What are you talking about?
Carlos: In El Salvador, when you don’t like a person anymore, you say se cayó de la moto.


Carlos: Can you put lotion in my back?
Me: In it?
Carlos: Yes.
Me: Are you SURE? You want me to put lotion IN your back?
Carlos: On.


11 year old: Buenos días, mamá. [Kisses my forehead while I'm still in bed]
Me: [smiling] Eres un niño dulce.
11 year old: I’m a candy?


[Giving a spelling test to our 11 year old.]

Carlos: Damness.
11 year old: Whaaat??
Carlos: DAMNESS.
11 year old: Daddy, let me see that, [Pulls book toward himself] … That says DAMPNESS.
Carlos: DAMNESS… You know what I mean!
11 year old: No Daddy, I actually didn’t. I thought you were saying a bad word.


[Carlos yelling at our 11 year old who was rough housing with the dog.]

Carlos: Don’t let the dog bite you like that. One day he’s going to bite your ear off and you’ll look like that artist… What’s his name?
Me: Van Gogh.
Carlos: Yeah, you’ll look like Vengo.


[At a Salvadoran restaurant. The waitress had been speaking Spanish to us the entire time but when she came to check on us during our meal, she accidentally spoke in English and caught herself.]

Waitress: How is every— oh! [pauses, bows head and closes her eyes]
11 year old: [whispering] Did she fall asleep?
Me: No, she’s just trying to switch her brain back to Spanish. The gears get stuck sometimes.


What has been your funniest bilingual moment lately?

Pescado, Cerveza e Invitados Inesperados

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!


Es domingo, casi a la hora de cenar, y todavia no me habia bañado. Carlos tampoco se habia bañado porque pasamos todo el día haciendo trabajo de jardinería. Estabamos sucios y sudorosos. Usé la ropa más fea y manchada que poseo, mi pelo era un desastre. Quitamos la ropa, Carlos y yo, listos por bañarnos por fin cuando escuchamos un carro parando afuera de nuestra casa. Voces hablan en español fuera de la puerta y luego, el timbre.

“¿Quién es?” pregunté a Carlos. No estamos esperando visitantes.

Carlos mira a escondidas por la ventana.

“Es Mando y Naji con los niños.”

Mando y Naji son nuestros amigos, una pareja mexicana, pero no somos tan, tan amigos que podemos visitar uno al otro sin invitación, o por lo menos, sin aviso. (Ni me visita mi madre sin hablarme por teléfono primero!) Como gringa, esta costumbre es una de la cultura latina que todavia no me gusta y de que no estoy acostumbrada.

Carlos se pusó su ropa de nuevo y fue a recibir a nuestros invitados inesperados, pero yo no! Me metí en la ducha y después empecé a vestirme lo más rápido posible. Puse ropa limpia, pero nada super fino, sólo eran jeans y una camiseta. Yo me recogí el pelo mojado y sólo puse un poco de maquillaje. “Es suficiente,” dije a mi reflejo en el espejo antes de salir de mi cuarto.

En la sala, Mando y Naji estaban sentados en el sofa y cuando les saludó, (Mando con un apretón de manos y Naji con un beso y un abrazo), lo único que podía pensar era ¡Qué guapos están! Los dos estaban vestidos en ropa fina y se veían tan elegantes que pregunté si acaban de salir de misa.

“¿No?” él respondió, perplejo. “¿Por qué?”

“Oh,” dijé yo, “Es que, ustedes se ven muy bonitos.”

Mando se sonrojó, pero no ofreció ninguna razón por la ropa de lujo.

“Nos trajerón pescado y cerveza,” Carlos me dijo, cambiando el tema. Esta visita está poniendo aún más extraña, pensé yo, pero allí estaba en la cocina, una bolsa llena de pescados ensangrentados con escamas, colas, cabezas y ojos. Cercano, unas botellas de Negra Modelo.

Por un tiempo, nos sentamos y hablamos. Yo disfruté mucho jugando con su bebé bien lindo con sus ojitos “chinos” y su sonrisa desdentada, pero cuando el tiempo de la cena llegó, no dio señales de salida. Al contrario, Mando abrió otra cerveza y Naji quitó sus tacones.

Con ansiedad, me di cuenta de que querían quedarse a cenar y todavia yo no había comprado la comida para la semana. Fui a la cocina a hacer un inventario, rezando que hay suficiente comida por hacer una cena bonita. De nuevo, miré la bolsa de pescado.

“Carlos,” le susurré, “Ellos no están esperando que voy a preparar los pescados por la cena, verdad?”

Gracias a Dios, Carlos me dijo que no – que no eran más que un regalo.

Al final encontré todo que necesitaba por hacer albóndigas salvadoreñas en salsa con arroz, yuca frita, curtido y tortillas. Naji insistió en ayudarme a cocinar – especificamente, ella quería hacer salsa mexicana por las albóndigas.

“Puedes hacer la salsa,” dije yo, “Pero son albóndigas salvadoreñas. No sé si saben bien juntas.”

Naji me observó hacer las albóndigas.

“Las hace diferentes que las albóndigas mexicanas. Yo pongo un huevo duro adentro de cada una,” dijo Naji.

“Qué rico,” dije, “Pero las albóndigas salvadoreñas no traen huevo adentro.”

“Bueno, de todos modos” dijo Naji a su manera amable pero terca, “Quiero hacer la salsa.”

“Está bien,” encogí mis hombros. “Vamos a comer albóndigas salvadoreñas con salsa mexicana, pues.”

Trabajamos juntos en la cocina, Naji y yo – una cosa difícil para unas mujeres.

“Te ayudo con las tortillas,” me dijo cuando terminé de hacer la masa.

“Okay,” dije, “gracias.”

“¿Dónde está la prensa?” me dijo.

“¿Qué es? No conozco esa palabra.”

Naji imitó el acto de presionar una tortilla plana en una prensa para tortillas.

“Oh! … No tengo,” dije, palmeando la masa entre mis manos.


“Así.” Me golpeó una tortilla gruesa en el comal.

“Para mi esto no es tortilla, es gordita.”

“En El Salvador, es tortilla,” dije.

Ahora era Naji que encogia sus hombros. Ella tomó un puñado de masa y comenzó a copiarme, deteniéndose de vez en cuando para preguntar si era correcto. Ella golpeó una tortilla gruesa en el comal, luego sonrió y negó con la cabeza.

“Guau, estoy aprendiendo hacer tortillas salvadoreñas.”

“Es aún más extraño,” dije, “estás aprendiendo hacer tortillas salvadoreñas de una gringa!”

A las nueve de la noche, todos finalmente se sentaron a cenar, todos alrededor de la mesa – Mando y Naji y sus dos hijos, Carlos y yo y nuestros dos hijos, una familia extraña pero feliz.

Barrigas llenas, platos raspados limpios después de porciones segundas y terceras, era el momento de decir “adiós”. Cuando se despidierón y cerramos la puerta, me di cuenta de que a pesar de que no me gustan las visitas de sorpresa, había sido una noche de diversión.

Ah, y si te lo estás preguntando, albóndigas salvadoreñas son deliciosas en salsa mexicana.



It’s Sunday, almost dinnertime, and I still had not bathed. Carlos also had not bathed because we spent all day doing yard work. We were dirty and sweaty. I wore the ugliest and most stained clothes I own, my hair was a mess. We removed the clothes, Carlos and I, finally ready to shower when we heard a car stopping outside our house. Voices speak Spanish outside the door and then the doorbell sounds.

“Who is it?” I ask Carlos. We are not expecting visitors.

Carlos peeks out the window.

“Mando and Naji with their kids.”

Mando and Naji are our friends, a Mexican couple, but we aren’t so close that we can visit one another without invitation, or at least, without prior notice. (Not even my mother visits me without phoning first!) As a gringa, this custom is one part of Latin culture that I still do not like and I’m not used to.

Carlos puts his clothes back on and goes out to greet our unexpected guests, but not me! I got into the shower and started to get ready as quickly as possible. I put on clean clothes, but nothing super nice – just jeans and a T-shirt. I pulled back my wet hair and put on just a little makeup. “Good enough,” I said to my reflection in the mirror before leaving my room.

In the living room, Naji and Mando sat on the couch and when I greeted them (Mando with a handshake and Naji with a kiss and a hug), all I could think was, They look so nice! Both were dressed in fancy clothes and looked so elegant that I asked if they had just come from mass.

“No?” Mando said, puzzled. “Why?”

“Oh,” I said, “It’s that you both look so handsome.”

Mando blushed, but offered no reason for the fancy threads.

“They brought us fish and beer,” Carlos said, changing the subject. This visit is getting even stranger, I thought, but there it was in the kitchen, a bag full of bloody fish with scales, tails, heads and eyes. Nearby, a few bottles of Negra Modelo.

For a while, we sat and talked. I enjoyed playing with their cute baby with his little almond-shaped eyes and his toothless smile, but when dinner time came, they made no move to depart. On the contrary, Mando opened another beer and Naji took off her heels.

Anxiously, I realized they wanted to stay for dinner and I hadn’t even bought the groceries for the week. I went to the kitchen to take inventory, praying that there was enough food to make a nice dinner. I looked at the bag of fish again.

“Carlos,” I whispered, “They’re not expecting that I prepare the fish for dinner, are they?”

Thankfully, Carlos told me no – that the fish were nothing more than a gift.

In the end I found everything I needed to make Salvadoran meatballs in salsa with rice, fried yucca, curtido and tortillas. Naji insisted on helping me cook – specifically, she wanted to make the salsa for the meatballs.

“You can make the salsa,” I said, “But they’re Salvadoran meatballs. I don’t know if they’ll go well together.”

Naji watched me make the meatballs.

“You make them different than Mexican meatballs. I put a hard boiled egg in each one,” said Naji.

“Sounds good,” I said, “But Salvadoran meatballs don’t have an egg inside.”

“Well, anyway,” said Naji in her kind but stubborn way, “I want to make the salsa.”

“Okay,” I shrugged my shoulders. “We’ll eat Salvadoran meatballs with Mexican salsa, then.”

We worked together in the kitchen, Naji and I – a difficult thing for some women.

“I’ll help with the tortillas,” she said when I finished making the dough.

“Okay,” I said, “Thanks.”

“Where is the prensa?” she said.

“What’s that? I don’t know that word.”

Naji imitated the act of pressing a tortilla flat in a tortilla press.

“Oh … I don’t have one,” I said, patting the dough in my hands.

“So, what now?”

“Like this,” I smacked a thick tortilla on the griddle.

“To me that is not a tortilla, that’s called a gordita.”

“In El Salvador, it’s a tortilla,” I said.

Now it was Naji who shrugged her shoulders. She took a handful of dough and began to copy me, stopping occasionally to ask if it was right. She slapped a thick tortilla onto the griddle, then smiled and shook her head.

“Wow, I’m learning to make Salvadoran tortillas.”

“It’s even stranger than that,” I said, “You’re learning to make Salvadoran tortillas from a gringa!”

At nine in the evening, everyone finally sat down to dinner, all around the table – Mando and Naji and their two sons, Carlos and I and our two boys – a strange but happy family.

Bellies full, plates scraped clean after second and third helpings, it was time to say “goodbye.” When they left and we closed the door behind them, I realized that even though I don’t like surprise visits, it had been a fun night.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Salvadoran meatballs are delicious with Mexican salsa.

Related Posts:

Amigos, fútbol, tamales y agua de uva

Mexican Salsa Roja

Bubu Lubu

Salvadoran Albóndigas

Día de Nieve

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!


Este miercoles tuvimos un montón de nieve hasta que Carlos no fue a trabajar y los niños no fueron a la escuela. Chico, (el perro) también tuvo un día lleno de diversión como puedes ver en el video.

On Wednesday we got a lot of snow, so much so that Carlos didn’t go to work and the kids didn’t go to school. Chico, (the dog) also had a fun-filled day as you can see in the video.

The Random Aventuras of Tracy & Carlos

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!


Este video no es completamente en español y la verdad es que uno tiene que ser bilingüe por entender todo – pero así es nuestra vida. Lo siento a los que no entienden todo pero ojalá todos disfrutan de alguna manera.

This video is not completely in Spanish and the truth is that you have to be bilingual to understand everything – but that’s how we live. Apologies in advance to those that don’t understand everything but hopefully everyone enjoys it in some way.

Amor Salvadoreño – un poema

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image adapted from photo by jicriado

Image adapted from photo by jicriado

Por el Día de Amor y la Amistad escribí unos poemas para Carlos. Aquí hay uno de ellos.

Amor Salvadoreño – un poema

¿Quieres que te diga cómo es nuestro amor?
Te puedo decir que nuestro amor es
más alto que el volcán de San Salvador
más profundo que el Lago de Ilogpango
más caliente que los días de mayo, y
más largo que el Río Lempa.

Nuestro amor es
más sabroso que una pupusa
más refrescante que una Coca-cola en bolsa
más chulo que La Chulona, y
más comodo que una hamaca amarrada entre dos palmas en la playa.

Nuestro amor es
más emocionante que los cuetes en Nochebuena
más íntimo que la gente apretada en el ultimo bus de San Salvador a Mejicanos
más divertido que las ruedas durante las Fiestas Agostinas, y
más apasionado que palabras entre Areneros y FMLNistas.

Nuestro amor es
más joven de corazón que un cipote jugando capirucho
más coqueto que novios en una pasarela
más rico que los que compran en La Gran Vía, y
más feliz que la mara cuando La Selecta mete un gol.

Nuestro amor es
más rítmico que una cumbia
más fuerte que los Vientos de Octubre
más interesante que el chisme de las vecinas, y
más salvaje que un chucho aguacatero.

¿Quieres que te diga cómo es nuestro amor?
Te puedo decir que nuestro amor es
más grande que nuestro querido El Salvador.


I wrote a few poems for Carlos for Valentine’s Day – here is one of them. [This poem has some untranslatable parts and loses something in English, but I didn't want to leave my English-speaking friends out so I gave it a try. Note: This poem is full of cultural references that may confuse even native Spanish-speakers who aren't Salvadoran.]

Amor Salvadoreño – a poem

You want me to tell you how our love is?
I can tell you our love is
higher than the San Salvador volcano
deeper than the Lake of Ilopango
hotter than the days of May, and
longer than the Lempa River.

Our love is
more delicious than a pupusa
more refreshing than a Coca-cola in a bag
more beautiful than La Chulona, and
more comfortable than a hammock tied between two palm trees on the beach.

Our love is
more exciting than fireworks on Christmas Eve,
more intimate than the people pressed together on the last bus from San Salvador to Mejicanos
more fun than the rides during Fiestas Agostinas, and
more passionate than words exchanged between Areneros and FMLNistas

Our love is
more young at heart than a kid playing capirucho
more flirtatious than novios on a footbridge
richer than those that shop at La Gran Vía, and
happier than everybody when La Selecta scores a goal.

Our love is
more rhythmic than a cumbia
stronger than the winds of October
more interesting than the neighborhood gossip
more untamed than a street dog.

You want me to tell you how our love is?
I can tell you our love is
bigger than our beloved El Salvador.

Central American Chow Mein


Some of you reading this are probably very excited and some of you a probably very confused – so let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Chow Mein, (also sometimes spelled Chao Mein, and often pronounced by some native Spanish speakers as “Chow Ming”), is best known as a noodle dish from China. Many people don’t realize that just as we have our Americanized versions of Chow Mein in the United States, there are well-loved versions of the dish all around the world, including in Central America.

Guatemala in particular has a great love of Chow Mein. This do-it-yourself box of “Chao Mein” (pictured below) is a brand commonly found in Latino Markets here in the U.S., and it’s made in Guatemala.


Chow Mein is also a favorite in neighboring El Salvador, and ever since I’ve known Carlos, he has loved Chow Mein, and Chinese food in general.

On our first date we spent the entire day together. For lunch we ate at a hamburger place but for dinner, (yes two meals together in one day!) Carlos wanted to go out for Chinese food. As we were waiting to be served at the Chinese restaurant, two waiters were standing nearby having a conversation in Chinese. Carlos jutted his chin in their direction, “Entiendes lo que dicen?” [Do you know what they're saying?] he asked me.

“No, no hablo Chino,” I responded perplexed.
“Yo sí,” he said, smiling, and then he proceeded to invent a translation of the waiters’ conversation.

I wasn’t convinced, but as you know, we soon married anyway. Years later Suegra moved in. When Suegra lived with us and we would go out to eat, we often ended up at Chinese buffets because it was the one cuisine she wouldn’t complain about. I never ate so much Chinese food in my life until I married a Salvadoran!

So, with that being said, here is my version of Salvadoran Chow Mein, which is basically the same as Guatemalan Chow Mein, although families each have their own unique way of making it.

Chow Mein (Central American style!)


1 package of “Chao Mein” noodles, or any brand Chow Mein Stir Fry Noodles
1 cup raw mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chayote (also known as güisquil), julienned
1 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup celery, julienned
1/2 cup green onion, (sliced lengthwise and then cut in 1 inch pieces)
5 chicken thighs, cooked and shredded (see notes below)
oil for frying (sesame oil and/or canola oil)
1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce can be used)

Notes Before We Get Started:

• It’s not necessary to buy the box of “Chao Mein” noodles pictured above. The box contains the noodles, a little packet of soy sauce (not nearly enough for my recipe), and 2 seasoning packets which I discarded because they contain MSG which I avoid. You can buy any Chow Mein Stir Fry Noodles. You may need to buy 2 packets of Chow Mein noodles depending on the size of the packages. You’ll want about 12 ounces to feed a hungry family of six people.

• This recipe is very flexible, feel free to try different vegetables and to increase the vegetables to make it healthier. You can also replace the dark meat chicken with chicken breast meat, steak or shrimp. I used green onions because that’s what I had on hand, but any type of onion you like can be used.

• If using chicken, you can cook it however you like. I cook it like this: Boil the chicken thighs in water with a little annatto (also known as “achiote”), a little salt, a little pepper, 1/2 an onion and a tablespoon of minced fresh garlic. After the chicken has cooked through, remove to cool. Once cool, discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat by hand and set aside. (The leftover broth can be used in another recipe.)

• For those who aren’t familiar, chayote (“güisquil” to Central Americans), is a type of squash, usually light green in color and about the size of a fist with one puckered side. The flavor is very mild and pleasant. To use chayote in this recipe, wash it and then julienne it, (i.e. cut it approximately into the size and shape of matchsticks or shoestring-style french fries.) You do not need to peel it but there is a small white seed in the middle you should discard.

• You can use sesame oil or canola oil for frying. I like to use equal amounts of both. The sesame oil gives it a nice flavor which helps make up for the fact that I discard the “condiment/flavoring” packets.


1. Prepare all vegetables while the chicken cooks. Put the vegetables in a large bowl together and set aside.
2. Prepare chicken (see notes above), and then set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the noodles into the water and cook about 5 minutes until al dente, being careful not to overcook them.
4. Remove the noodles to a colander to drain. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet over high heat add a few tablespoons of oil. Use either canola oil or sesame oil, or use equal amounts of both, (which is what I do.)
6. When the oil is very hot, add the vegetables, and stir them continuously for one to two minutes.
7. Add the chicken and continue stirring for another minute.
8. Add the noodles and continue stirring for another minute.
9. Add 1/3 cup soy sauce, stir and remove from heat.
10. Serve and enjoy!


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