Hey baby, what do you say I take you home and eat your pupusa?

Drippy with stringy cheese and full of flavor, these pupusas are a punch to the lips that leave a fella reeling and demanding more.

Now, in previous entries I’ve railed against my boring, WASPy kin by deriding their faux-worldliness and absolute lack of cultural awareness as they gravitate around that which they find comforting like scared little cavemen huddled around their campfire, shivering in abject horror at that which lurks outside of their established comfort zones.

I’m going to level with you here, gentle reader, I ain’t as worldly as my braggadocio proclaims. Adventurous and fearless in my epicurian pursuits, yes, but I’m only slightly more well-traveled than that one rug that just held the whole room together. Johnny Cash I ain’t (however I have been to Hawthorne).

I live vicariously through Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimern, anxious to follow in their footsteps and eat the absolute bonkers shit they get paid to shovel down. Alas, I lack their big greasy money and entertainment industry contacts, so I make do with what little I have and attempt to make that go as long and far as I can.

Which means I find myself rubbing elbows with the real people, poor, hard-working folk on down times and disastrous circumstances. These people need a hearty meal at a low price, one that sticks to the insides and warms the heart as much as it warms the stomach.

When I first arrived here in Sin City USA, I noticed one word continuing to crop up on backlit signage at low-rent strip malls in the back streets near the University campus: “pupuseria.”

Now, this is the first time I’d ever seen the term, I was fascinated. Quickly consulting the wikipedos, it was very-helpfully revealed that a pupuseria was a restaurant what serves pupusas. Thanks, wikipedia, I could have deduced that one on my own.

Some days later, while waiting for a date that never materialized, I decided to satiate my curiosity and find out fir myself what the damn big deal was about pupusas.

On that lazy Friday afternoon, I moseyed into Las Pupusas Restaurant at the corner of Eastern and Tropicana. Upon entering, I was greeted by a friendly Salvadoran woman who walked me through the ins and outs of today’s culinary expedition into the Darkest Unknown. She was my Sherpa and I was the goober-ass hillbilly tourist idiot.

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish that dates back to before there even was a Salvador. They are doughy lumps of masa dough stuffed with a meaty, cheesy filling that’s been mulched to a fine purée then grilled on the hot top.

There were three fillings on the menu, and I ordered one of each, as well as a delightful pineapple punch that had bits of apple floating about therein.

It’s telling when the beverage cost more than the entree, but this is tough grub for tough people – people who see fruity beverages as an extraneous expense, unneccessary for survival in the harsh reality of their lives. But I digress, this punch is the forshizzlest. It needs to be served with a bigger bore straw so a dude can suck up all the delightful rough-chopped apple bits.

The dish arrived, looking all the world like three big, floppy, cheesy pancakes. The cheese filling bled out the sides and created a delicious brown crust around the edges, exactly the sort of thing I loved in my grilled cheese as a youth, but that which would always be cut away before service. Sigh.

The meal as it was served. Three pupusas of varying flavors, a little bowl of delightful fermented cabbage, red chile tomato sauce and the pina/manzanita punch. Stellar.

The plate came with a side of lightly-fermented cabbage studded with chile, tomato and cilantro flavors. It was crisp like a properly-drained Southern coleslaw but tart and delicious like sauerkraut. I could eat just this coleslaw and be happy.

The pupusas themselves were a soft, pillowy, buttery, cheesy delight, swimming in herbiage that was not the typical Mexican flavors to which I’m accustomed, but at the same time, distinctively Latin. I someday wish to work in a kitchen like this to learn the subtle complexities of the seasonings. What I can say though is I’m in love.

I savored each of the three varieties on the menu: Revueltas (fried pork and refried beans), Loroco (melty, drippy, Quesillo cheese and their proprietary blend of 11 herbs and spices) and a Calabaza (squash and Quesillo). All were outstanding, but my favor fell on the Revueltas, being a dude that’s got a soft spot in his guts for anything that’s been trimmed off of a that most majestic and delicious of critters: the stately swine.

The total bill came to under ten bucks, four of which was my beverage. There was so much wonderful, filling food that I was unable to finish it all. I honestly cannot remember a time when ten bucks at a sit-down place left me satisfied. I need a nap.

I honestly do not know how I made it to almost thirty without having never experienced a pupusa. But now that I have, I fully expect this dish and these wonderful little pupuserias – blaring Cuban music from the PA and adorable children running but not screaming around the tables – to be a regular thing for myself, my friends, family and out of town guests.

Fan-fuckin’-tastic.

Maybe this town doesn’t suck so bad after all?

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One Response to “Hey baby, what do you say I take you home and eat your pupusa?”

  1. Jenn Says:

    Maybe its bad to work backwards, oh well. Told you those things were the shit – too bad I suck at properly describing them. I used to by them on the street from cart vendors whenever I was in east los yumm yumm. Another place to hit when I come to visit!

    You should get paid to do this! or at least write for a magazine. But then which mag? I don’t know one decent mag for people under the age of 50. Everything is cluttered in adds and/or b.s. articles. Hence no one reads magazines other then pre-teens and other adolescent adults looking for sex and fashions tips. This brings me to the internet – where you are. I can’t name an online only paper or magazine that “everyone reads” that isn’t news… guess thats why blogs were invented 😉 now how to get the world to read um and pay for them…? Thinking the world is becoming too visual -> youtube anything rather then read about it. Well when the “who wants to be the next Anthony Bordain” comes on I’ll vote for you!

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