El Salvador – Comida (Part II)

I promised more traditional food in this post but first, cotton candy, because I paid $2 for this photo.

What happened was this – I saw the girl making cotton candy and I tried to take her photo without her seeing me. Unfortunately, I am not very sneaky so she spotted me and she looked either annoyed or uncomfortable… maybe both.

This is a situation I avoid when taking photos of people, and I felt terrible. Instead of running off, I walked right up to her, smiled, and told her I thought it was really neat how she made the cotton candy. She looked like she might have been thinking, “Don’t they have cotton candy in the United States? What is with this gringa?”

And so I did the only logical thing I could think of – I bought a cotton candy for $1 … I was so mortified by this encounter that I started to run off with the cotton candy before she gave me my change. When she called me back and gave me my change, I’m pretty sure my face was the color of the cotton candy I held in my hand. I took the change and handed her another dollar. “Propina,” [tip] I said. She must have thought I was crazy.

(My youngest son likes when I get caught taking photos of cotton candy girls.)

Another stand I visited in the mall was “Tía Toya” – where they sell traditional candies. My favorites were these cookies.

I could have sworn the lady at Tía Toya called these Merenguettas but Carlos says they’re Espumillas.

It was hot while we were there. That meant a lot of paletas and ice cream. Poor us, right?

(Sandia y hierba buena paleta)

(Pie de Limon paleta)

These ice cream cones are from La Nevería. The women there very aggressively push their combo deals. You want only one ice cream cone? Too bad. You must buy two, or three. They made it seem non-negotiable. They were like the Soup Nazi only with ice cream. When they weren’t demanding that we order more ice cream than we wanted, they were laughing at Carlos. I told Carlos to order me Pistacho Chip flavor, (best ice cream flavor EVER!) but Carlos pronounced it “pistachio” (like you do in English.) Apparently that is hilarious.

Staying hydrated when it’s hot is important. I tried to drink water as much as possible.

The boys learning to drink water from a bag.

But we drank a lot of soda, too.

And coffee… (Well, milk with some coffee in it, and a lot of sugar.)

And the occasional agua de coco.

But my favorite drink will always, always, always be horchata. Every horchata I had in El Salvador was delicious – but one of the best ones was from Mister Donut.

The kids thought the name of the place was hilarious, especially the way you say it in Spanish, (Meeeester Dona) – but this is actually a chain owned by Dunkin’ Donuts, (which is an equally silly name if you think about it.)

I miss Mister Donut. The first time we went, we lined up to get our food, (cafeteria-style.) When we got to the counter Carlos asked the woman behind the counter, “How does this work?” … The lady looked at him kind of weird before explaining. This caused me and the boys to crack up because then I just kept imaging someone walking up to the counter at a McDonald’s and saying “How does this work?” – like where did this person come from? Did they just wake up from a coma?

Beans on french bread with cheese and fresh salsa.

Another favorite breakfast we discovered was at a place called San Martin’s. This breakfast was called “El Desayuno Universitario” (the University breakfast.) Since coming home, I’ve been making it myself. (Step-by-step recipe in another post maybe!)

One thing I really wanted to try in El Salvador was riguas. Every day we walked by a place called “D’Elote” and the woman would be cooking riguas on the big comal. I begged Carlos to eat there but he wasn’t interested. After bugging him for a week he finally gave in.

Carlos and the boys got pupusas.

I got a tamal frito, a rigua with frijoles, and a raspado de elote loco.

Elote loco is a corn cob covered in ketchup, mayo, mustard, Parmesan cheese, etc. – and it’s really messy. I would never eat an elote loco in public… But, the RASPADO de elote loco is a genius idea. It’s the same thing… in a cup.

Something else I had to try – a Salvadoran hot dog.

This one is a from a place called El Paso hot dogs. I’ll admit, I understand why Carlos gets nostalgic for Salvadoran hot dogs – but I still like American ballpark-style better.

Another must try – Panes con Pavo, (Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich, from Pavito Criollo.)

Panes con Pavo

Before going to El Salvador, I’ll admit, I thought that American sandwiches were the best – absolutely no contest… but sandwiches in El Salvador are definite competition. The peanut butter and jelly I eat at lunch time now depresses me as I remember this delicious torta I had at a comedor in Parque Hula Hula. (Accompanied by a Pilsener of course.)

While we usually stayed around San Salvador, we made a special trip all the way to Izalco, which was recommended by our friend Chele.

This restaurant and Izalco itself, were “de buen ambiente” even though it was rainy the day we went.

Youngest son waits for the food and watches life out the window of Chele’s Restaurant.

This drink is called a “Frozen de Coco” … It was delicious but I can’t stand the word “frozen” used in this way. Many restaurants had drinks they called “Frozens” … It just makes me insane. I can’t explain why. Maybe because it’s being used as a noun. I don’t know.

Down from the mountains and to the beach!

It was night time when we finally made it to the famous “Malecón” (boardwalk) in La Libertad. This was my Coctel de Camarón… Carlos got a Coctel de Conchas. He was very happy.

Carlos’s best friend who showed us around knew where to find cheap Salvadoran food and took us to a cafeteria-style place called La Movida which is on the top floor of a grocery store. We went crazy ordering anything and everything there.

This evening Carlos called our friend back in El Salvador. The friend told us that he had just gone back to eat at La Movida today, and the cafeteria lady asked about us.

“Where’s the girl with the pretty eyes and the other people who were with you last time? They ordered a lot of food!” she said.

“They had just gotten out of Mariona,” our friend said, “they were hungry.”

[“Mariona” is a prison.]

The woman laughed. “Tell them I say ‘hello’.”


  1. Just out of prison!! ha…this post had me rollin’…especially the part about Carlos asking, “So how does this work?”
    My two year old pointed to every picture and said, “I want that.” Maybe I should get him some breakfast now.

    I can relate to the taking pictures and feeling bad about it….I remember telling family, “Stand here and let me take a picture of you,” but really I was shooting past them at something else. Sneaky, but it worked most of the time.

  2. I think it’s cute that you got busted taking a picture of cotton candy girl! Hilarious!

    I’d go there just for the ice cream. :)

  3. All the food looks yummy! Espumillas are delicious… and I love Salvadorean watered down coffee con leche but with no sugar…I personally think it’s better than Starbucks ( :

    Un tamal frito con crema y frijoles is what I’d like to have for breakfast today, I will have to imagine this while I eat my oatmeal.

    I have to admit that one of my favorite reasons to visit El Salvador is the food, I’m lucky that my grandmother is there, so most of the time we are there, or she is here, she spends it in the kitchen (out of her choice) cooking for us.

    I also love and really have to resist all the street vendors that pass by my grandmothers home.

    It looks like you guys did a lot of food exploring!

    (and now my 3 year old wants everything and I better go make her some breakfast too)

  4. hahahahahah..awesome post…

    Next time you should try the candies from Dulces Albanes, they are better than Tia Toya in my opinion. BTW, the meringue part on the top of the cookie is an espumilla. I don’t know what they are called with a cookie attached, but it is not espumilla.

    I love the ‘how does this work?’ part. I know the feeling because I’ve had it happen to me. Fortunately on most occasions I’ve had a local with me, so my embarrassment only goes as far as having to ask them, not the person behind the counter. LOL.

    The ‘frozen’ thing reminded me of something else that happens to me on a regular basis. People totally mangle English words, but they still use them. The problem is I see an English word and I naturally want to pronounce it properly, not mangled. Nobody understand you if you pronounce it correctly. I’ve had these funny exchanges with people as a result.

    For example, I once asked for a ‘milkshake,’ but the girl behind the counter didn’t know what I was talking about. I repeated myself about 3 times, same thing, until my dad stepped in and said ‘mil shay’

    Not long ago, I wanted a gatorade and it dawned on me that I didn’t have a clue as to how locals pronounced it. I went to the store and sure enough the guy didn’t understand me. After a few iterations, I finally hit upon the ‘proper’ enunciation: ‘gay to rey’ LOL

    • gay to rey jajajajaajajajajaj! Love it. Lo mismo me pasa a mi cuando pedía un Hot Dog y había un dead silence. So I had to say Jotoi! Boom.. I had my hot dog.
      Y qué de la “cora” = quarter (0.25).
      Pop Corn = pocorn
      Pizza Hut = pitza jot
      Ay mi pueblo!!!!!

      • Te tengo que corregir, es “piCsa jot” no “pitza jot”…jajajajjajajajajaj

        La otra que me gusta es la leche “anchor”….si la pronuncias “anker,” nadie sabe a que putas te referis. Yo por casualidad andaba en Nueva Zelanda ase unos 6 anhos y como de alli viene esa leche, vi publicidad en las calles. Cada vez que veia un rotulo me reia.

        I refuse to use “cora.” Nunca. Odio esa palabra y ma cae re-contra mal lo rapido que se acepto su uso en ES.

        Sabes algo interesante tambien? Por veces la gente sale con unas palabras en Ingles que ya no se usan en el Ingles moderno, por lo menos en USA. Vienen del Ingles de Inglaterra.

        Por ejemplo, usan la palabra “smoking” para referirse a un tuxedo. Nunca he oido alguien en USA usar esa palabra, y si es correcta.

  5. I love food in Latin America! Really, I have yet to eat something I really don’t like. I’m a bread/tortilla person (well, you know, being French), I like cheese (same reason) and chicken. And beans. Okay, you may get sick of it after a while, that’s the only issue!

    I’m more conservative when it comes to drinks, although I’m a Coke zero addict and I love tea.

  6. Opino igual que @cheleguanaco los dulces Albanes son una delicia. Son de mejor calidad pero siento que tienen menos variedad que Tia Toya.
    Si, esas cositas que carlos les llama espumillas son realmente “rosquillitas’ CON espumillas. Adictive right?
    Todas las cosas que hacen mención, son muy ricas: agua de coco, ceviches, panes con pavo, las paletas etc.
    tengo que salir más seguido a la calle para probar tanta delicia!

  7. Ay qué barbaros, que buenos banquetes se dieron! I am very curious to try pupusas; I´ve only had arepas from a Venezuelan friend (delish!) y sopes, obviamente.
    No doubt you guys know how to have a great time!!!

  8. my goodness that cotten candy looked delish!!!! in some countries a las espumillas les dicen merengues so maybe you did hear that lol
    me distes hambre mujer!!

  9. Thank you for posting this! I am now drooling haha :) Did you try the nuegados? I’ve had them twice, and I love them! All that food looks sooo good, I might just have to make papusas for dinner lol

  10. I’ve been reading these El Salvador blogs to my husband and is having a great time listening to your stories…especially this one! I swear his mouth is watering looking at all of the pictures. Oh…and loroco es delicioso! I’m glad you gave it another try. Yummm….I love riugas also. I can’t wait to eat one from El Salvador. And yuca frita…and nuegados…I am planning to find some nice lady when we go in December that will take me back to the kitchen and teach me some tips that I can apply to my own business hehehe. A ver que pasa!

  11. I love it. Vivo en Los Angeles desde hace tres años y este blog me ha recordado mi lindo país y la gran variedad de platillos. Gracias por compartir sus experiencias en el pulgarcito.

  12. Me parece que Carlos fue un buen anfitrion, se cumplio el objetivo de dar a conocer con su esposa e hijos lo mas tradicional de nuestra comida!!! Bien por el!!!! Ahhh me encanto la idea del Elote Loco en el vaso!!

  13. I miss Mister Dounts. Sadly, I never really care a whole lot for it until I left El Salvador 13 years ago. I really want a relampago. :(

    I know at the time I left they started doing the breakfast thing but it used to be pastries pretty much.

    I also miss el pan frances :(

  14. […] Ya casi fue dos años que fuimos a El Salvador y cada día lo siento más y más. Aunque tenemos la esperanza de ir otra vez en 2014, por el momento tengo que aceptar la realidad que voy a pasar otro verano sin viajar allá. Para sentirme mejor, voy a cocinar todas mis comidas favoritas de El Salvador – y cuál mejor por empezar el verano que el Raspado de Elote Loco? […]

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