Wednesday, March 6

Comida in Nicaragua

I want to first say that my day is totally made when I receive a random email or message from someone with encouraging words or simply updating me on their lives. I'm really loving it here in Nicaragua but it means the world to me to hear from people back home. Which is also why I am trying to be more consistent with updating my blog, so I can be in touch we you all as well. Y'all are awesome! Ustedes son tuanis!

I realize I don't share enough about my everyday living here in Nicaragua, so today I want to share about food here in Nicaragua. I cook for myself now, so sadly, I don't experience typical Nicaraguan dishes as often but when I am a satisfied girl.

One of my favorite Nicaraguan foods is a Nacatamale. Similar to the tamales from Mexico, Nacatamales are wrapped in banana plant leaves and contain cooked pork. People usually eat them for breakfast and only as a special treat. A house in my neighborhood sells them directly out of their house. They have a simple hand written sign that says "Hay nacatamles 30 cordobas". I went to my first Nicaraguan wedding in December and before we left they gave each of us a nacatamale. I was informed it was because we were leaving "early" at 11pm and many times wedding receptions last until the morning; therefore, they were going to provide nacatamales for breakfast.

When I lived with Doña Rosa my favorite dish she made were her Nicaraguan tacos. She creates some sort of sauce and cooks a large tortilla in the sauce while placing meat with different seasonings inside the tortilla. She folds the tortilla in half as it becomes hardened. The meat and filling is trapped inside. It's delicioso!

Next to the taco is what a typcial "ensalada" or salad looks like.

Lunches, here in Nicaragua, are always the largest meals of the day and consist of hot food. A typical lunch plate is some kind of meat, usually chicken or beef, rice, beans, and some kind of vegetable. Tortillas are always included.

This meal costs 50 cordobas or about $2. On this plate, the salad actually comes with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, but without salad dressing. The tortillas are always hand made whether they bought them from someone else nearby or made them at their restaurant. 

The other day I finally tried BOAH (ba-ow). Beef, yucca, and plantain is cooked together for several hours until ready, similar to brisket. The dish is typically served on a banana plant leaf, as well. I'm excited because I heard today at work Doña Chelito y Maria are serving boah for lunch. Maria said they started cooking everything at 6:30 this morning.

Another one of my favorite foods here is simply the fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is readily available anywhere throughout the country. Right now it is mango season. :) However, I harldly ever eat apples, grapes, strawberries or berries in general. These fruits are not grown within Nicargaua and as a result are a lot more expensive. It's kind of a privilege of sorts to eat an apple. I just discovered a fruit stand near my work, so I can easily carry my big plastic bags from the market and stock up on fruit each week.

People sell bowls of fruit, as seen above, on the street. The big orange fruit is papaya. I'd say it's one of the most popular fruits in Nicaragua. 

As I've traveled on different road trips with AMC, I discovered that a traditional "pit stop" snack is a tortillla with guajada. Guajada is pretty much the only cheese Nicaraguans eat. It has a salty, bitter taste. It is a filling snack and you can easily get back to working hard or traveling.

As I am talking about Nicaraguan food, I CANNOT forget the most classic food of all... Gallo Pinto. I still have yet to try cooking gallo pinto on my own, but basically you cook your beans and rice separately and add onions and seasoning to the rice. Then, mix the two together. You always want more rice than beans. I do love me some gallo pinto!

The most popular beverage in Nicaragua is coffee. I did not drink coffee before living in Nicaragua and now it has become part of my daily living. My supervisor, Dr. Francisco, can not go a day without his coffee and he always brings us special types of coffee. I learned when coffee is grown at a higher altitude it is has a much richer taste, which is why Matagalpa is the busiest area for coffee growth. Each of our land banks also grows coffee plants and it is the largest export for Nicaragua. However, out of the entire world's coffee exportation on 5% is from Nicaragua. I had a very short and glamorous experience picking coffee beans on my friend Jossimar's farm. You look for the matured seeds or the seeds which are red or mostly red, and pick them off with your hand. Most people who work picking coffee during Nov- Jan earn a small pay for every 20lbs they pick. It's hard work for little money.

You think I have 20lb?
I could continue on explaining and describing much more food and beverages from Nicaragua, but this will conclude volume 1 of Comida in Nicaragua.

Dios les bendiga!