El Salvador is a beautiful country with many volcanoes, lakes, rivers, mountains, and beaches. Nourished by the sunshine and tropical rains, the soil is rich and supports an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Its access to the Pacific Ocean provides this Central American jewel with an amazing variety and catch of fresh seafood all year round.
Salvadoran cuisine evolved from the union of two cultures – the indigenous Pipil and the Spanish – blending their ingredients and traditions. The ancient Pipil diet consisted of native foods like corn, red beans, squash, pumpkin, tomato, potato, yuca, chayote, green beans, fresh fish, wild turkey, and other small game. Cooking artifacts found at the archeological site of Joya de Cerén indicate that the world famous Salvadoran Pupusas were a daily staple over a millennium ago.
With the arrival of the Spanish at the beginning of the 16th century, a new agriculture burgeoned in El Salvador. The influx of livestock such as beef, pork, and other fowl adapted and prospered in the fertile land. The Spanish also introduced new grains and dairy products like rice and cheese, as well as, herbs from the Mediterranean. Parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint, thyme, and bay laurel easily flourished in the lush valleys and mountains of El Salvador and became a major influence on Salvadoran cuisine. These new ingredients took root and the European ways of cooking perfectly interconnected with the native ingredients and dishes. Thus, a new and distinct authentic gourmet Salvadoran cuisine was born.
The delicious foods of El Salvador embrace personal preferences and regional variations based on family history and geography, both of which are truly fascinating. Classic examples are the home cook’s addition of tomatoes to Summer Squash in a Cream Sauce or cream to the Seafood Soup. These recipes for traditional Salvadoran cooking capture the authentic gourmet and artisan quality of El Salvador’s home cooking.
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