Pupusa
Overview
 
A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla
Tortilla
In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize...

 (made using masa de maíz
Masa
Masa is Spanish for dough. In the Americas it is often short for masa de maíz, a maize dough made from freshly prepared hominy. It is used for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, arepas and many other Latin American dishes. The dried and powdered form is called masa harina, masa de harina,...

, a maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 flour
Flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

 dough
Dough
Dough is a paste made out of any cereals or leguminous crops by mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid. This process is a precursor to making a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly breads and bread-based items , flatbreads, noodles, pastry, and similar items)...

 used in Latin American cuisine
Latin American cuisine
Latin American Cuisine refers to typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America...

) that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 (queso) (usually a soft cheese called Quesillo
Quesillo
Quesillo refers to different Latin American food or dishes depending on the country:-Bolivia:Quesillo in Bolivia means small fresh cheese. Popular farm cheese of the Cochabamba valley. Usually made from raw cow milk, pepsin and acid coagulation, maize size curd, dry salted, hand formed palm size...

 found in all Central America), cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency (called chicharrón, not to be confused with fried pork rind
Pork rind
Pork rind , is the fried or roasted skin of a pig. Frying melts most of the fat from the pork rind...

, which is also known as chicharrón in some other countries), refried beans
Refried beans
Refried beans is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a somewhat different approach when making the dish.-Ingredients and preparation:...

 (frijoles refritos), or queso con loroco (loroco
Fernaldia pandurata
Fernaldia pandurata Woodson in family Apocynaceae is a vine with edible flowers that grows in El Salvador, the eastern part of Guatemala, and other Central American countries. It is an important and popular source of food in El Salvador and Guatemala...

 is a vine flower bud from Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

).
Encyclopedia
A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla
Tortilla
In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize...

 (made using masa de maíz
Masa
Masa is Spanish for dough. In the Americas it is often short for masa de maíz, a maize dough made from freshly prepared hominy. It is used for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, arepas and many other Latin American dishes. The dried and powdered form is called masa harina, masa de harina,...

, a maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 flour
Flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

 dough
Dough
Dough is a paste made out of any cereals or leguminous crops by mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid. This process is a precursor to making a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly breads and bread-based items , flatbreads, noodles, pastry, and similar items)...

 used in Latin American cuisine
Latin American cuisine
Latin American Cuisine refers to typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America...

) that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 (queso) (usually a soft cheese called Quesillo
Quesillo
Quesillo refers to different Latin American food or dishes depending on the country:-Bolivia:Quesillo in Bolivia means small fresh cheese. Popular farm cheese of the Cochabamba valley. Usually made from raw cow milk, pepsin and acid coagulation, maize size curd, dry salted, hand formed palm size...

 found in all Central America), cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency (called chicharrón, not to be confused with fried pork rind
Pork rind
Pork rind , is the fried or roasted skin of a pig. Frying melts most of the fat from the pork rind...

, which is also known as chicharrón in some other countries), refried beans
Refried beans
Refried beans is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a somewhat different approach when making the dish.-Ingredients and preparation:...

 (frijoles refritos), or queso con loroco (loroco
Fernaldia pandurata
Fernaldia pandurata Woodson in family Apocynaceae is a vine with edible flowers that grows in El Salvador, the eastern part of Guatemala, and other Central American countries. It is an important and popular source of food in El Salvador and Guatemala...

 is a vine flower bud from Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

). The two most common pupusas are the pupusa de queso (cheese) and more popular pupusa revuelta with mixed ingredients of queso (cheese), frijoles (beans), and chicharrón. Pupusas are typically served with curtido
Curtido
Curtido is a type of cabbage relish, lightly fermented. It is typical of Mexican and Central American cuisine. In Salvadoran cuisine it is usually made with pickled cabbage, onions, carrots, and sometimes lemon juice and resembles sauerkraut, kimchi, or cole slaw. It is commonly served alongside...

 (lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar) and a watery tomato salsa.

Pupusas are similar to the South American arepa
Arepa
An arepa is a dish made of ground corn dough or cooked flour, popular in Colombia, Venezuela and other Spanish-speaking countries. It is similar in shape to the Salvadoran pupusa...

. However, the main difference is that the pupusa is made out of nixtamal, whereas arepas are made out of ordinary corn dough. Nixtamal is basically the same corn dough, but it has undergone a preparation process involving an alkaline solution before cooking, which contributes to peel the grains while preserving valuable nutrients. This process was developed in Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

 around 1500 - 1200 BC. Early Mesoamericans used quicklime or slaked lime and ashes
Ashes
Ashes may refer to:* The Ashes, the Test cricket series between England and Australia* The Ashes , the rugby league Test series between Great Britain and Australia...

 as the alkaline solution. Dried nixtamal is now commercially available.

The Mexican gordita
Gordita
A gordita in Mexican cuisine is a corn cake made with masa harina and stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings. It is similar to a pasty and to the Colombian/Venezuelan arepa. Gordita means "little fat one" in Spanish. A gordita is typically fried in a deep wok-shaped comal or baked on a...

 is also similar to the Salvadoran pupusa, but the ingredients vary. Gorditas generally have more filling than pupusas (hence the name gordita - "fatty") and normally have an opening at the center of the tortilla.

History

Pupusas, also known as Pupisio, were first created centuries ago by the Pipil tribes that dwelt in the territory now known as El Salvador. Cooking implements for their preparation have been excavated in Joya de Cerén
Joya de Cerén
Joya de Cerén is an archaeological site in La Libertad Department, El Salvador featuring a pre-Columbian Maya farming village preserved remarkably intact under layers of volcanic ash...

, "El Salvador's Pompeii", site of a native village that was buried by ashes from a volcano explosion, and where foodstuffs were preserved as they were being cooked almost two thousand years ago. The instruments for their preparation have also been found in other archaeological sites in El Salvador.

In the late 1940s, pupusas were still not widespread across El Salvador, and were mostly localized in the central towns, such as Quezaltepeque, and cities of the country. As the population started to migrate to other areas, pupusas stands started to proliferate in the 1960s across the country and in the neighboring areas of Honduras and Guatemala, sometimes with variations in shape, size or filling. In Guatemala during the 1970s, pupusas had a half-moon shape. The half mooned shape would be considered a half eaten pupusa in the Chalatenango area, fish pupusas were uncommon, and pupusas served east of the Lempa river
Lempa River
The Lempa River is a 422 km long river in Central America. Its sources are located in between the Sierra Madre and the Sierra del Merendón in southern Guatemala, near the town of Olopa. In Guatemala the river is called Río Olopa and flows southwards for 30.4 km before entering Honduras and...

 usually had a much larger diameter.

In the 1980s, the Salvadoran civil war forced a Salvadoran migration to other countries, mainly the United States
Salvadoran American
Salvadorian Americans are citizens or residents of the United States of Salvadoran descent. As of 2010 there are 1.6 million Salvadoran Americans in the United States, the fourth-largest Hispanic community by nation of ancestry.They are also known as the nicknamed Salvi people in the USA,...

. Therefore, pupusas became available outside the country wherever a Salvadoran community was found. In the United States, immigrants have brought the dish to Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 (especially Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Durham County and also extends into Wake County. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, and the 85th-largest in the United States by population, with 228,330 residents as of the 2010 United States census...

), Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, East Boston, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Lancaster, PA, St. Paul, Minnesota, Northwest Arkansas, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Atlanta, Portland,OR, Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

, Nashville, TN, Las Vegas, NV, Albuquerque, NM, Tampa, FL and other locations, where there are now many pupuserías (a place where pupusas are sold and made). In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, pupuserías may be found in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, (North York and City of York), Kensington Market
Kensington Market
Kensington Market is a distinctive multicultural neighbourhood in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Market is an older neighbourhood and one of the city's most well-known. In November 2006, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Robert Fulford wrote in 1999 that "Kensington...

, Southern
Southern Ontario
Southern Ontario is a region of the province of Ontario, Canada that lies south of the French River and Algonquin Park. Depending on the inclusion of the Parry Sound and Muskoka districts, its surface area would cover between 14 to 15% of the province. It is the southernmost region of...

 Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Eastern Ontario
Eastern Ontario
Eastern Ontario is a subregion of Southern Ontario in the Canadian province of Ontario which lies in a wedge-shaped area between the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence River...

, Montréal, Québec, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

 and in Vancouver, BC. Since recent years pupusas can be found in some Latin American restaurants in Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 and Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

.

Both at home and abroad, pupusas are traditionally served with curtido
Curtido
Curtido is a type of cabbage relish, lightly fermented. It is typical of Mexican and Central American cuisine. In Salvadoran cuisine it is usually made with pickled cabbage, onions, carrots, and sometimes lemon juice and resembles sauerkraut, kimchi, or cole slaw. It is commonly served alongside...

 (a pickled cabbage relish, analogous to German sauerkraut
Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut , directly translated from German: "sour cabbage", is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid...

 and Korean kimchi
Kimchi
Kimchi , also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, green onions or cucumber. It is the most common...

 that comes in mild and spicy varieties) and tomato sauce
Tomato sauce
A tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish...

, and are traditionally eaten by hand.

There are many local folklore tales surrounding the dish. These tales often tell of diverse origins or effects of pupusas on people.

Variants and cousins

A popular variant of the pupusa in El Salvador is the pupusa de arroz. Rice flour is used to make the masa
Masa
Masa is Spanish for dough. In the Americas it is often short for masa de maíz, a maize dough made from freshly prepared hominy. It is used for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, arepas and many other Latin American dishes. The dried and powdered form is called masa harina, masa de harina,...

, as the name indicates, and they are usually stuffed only with chicharron (chopped pork) and cheese. They hail from the town of Olocuilta, located to the east of San Salvador, but are now readily available throughout the country. They can also be found at the top of the hill fronting el Casa de Rogner/Bowen in San Salvador. Another regional variation, found in Alegría, is the pupusa de banano.

Pupusas made in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 are typically made with Maseca (brand name of a popular commercial corn flour-masa mix) instead of fresh masa harina. Some high-end pupuserías in the United States use rice flour and make low-carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

 versions with wheat flour.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Utah pupusas variations such as spinach, pepperoni & cheese, and the ubiquitous green chile, are popular.

A Mexican dish that is similar to the pupusa is called a gordita
Gordita
A gordita in Mexican cuisine is a corn cake made with masa harina and stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings. It is similar to a pasty and to the Colombian/Venezuelan arepa. Gordita means "little fat one" in Spanish. A gordita is typically fried in a deep wok-shaped comal or baked on a...

 (literally, "fatty"), but gorditas are usually open at one end. In Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, they make arepas (where the dough is cooked first, and then sliced in half and stuffed somewhat like a hamburger
Hamburger
A hamburger is a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat usually placed inside a sliced bread roll...

). Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 has its own recipe of arepas, but, unlike Venezuelan, Colombian arepas, are usually eaten without filling, or the filling is placed inside the dough before cooking. Pupusas are also found in neighboring Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

n countries. Honduran pupusas often use the local quesillo type of cheese for the filling. In Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

, the pupusa variant consists of two fried tortilla
Tortilla
In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize...

s with white cheese between them.

Taco Cabana
Taco Cabana
Taco Cabana is a U.S.-based fast food restaurant chain specializing in Tex-Mex cuisine and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carrols Restaurant Group. Taco Cabana is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas...

, a Tex-Mex
Tex-Mex cuisine
"Tex-Mex" is a term used to describe a regional American cuisine that blends food products available in the United States and the culinary creations of Mexican-Americans influenced by the cuisines of Mexico. The cuisine has spread from border states such as Texas and those in the Southwestern...

 chain in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, created a dish called the Pupusa that has no relation to the Salvadorian delicacy.

Economy

In spite of its low market price, pupusas represent an important element in the economy of El Salvador. In addition to whole pupusas, the individual ingredients are also exported; for example, in 2005 $604,408 worth of loroco was sold to the United States alone.

In supermarkets

Fresh pupusas can be found in the refrigerated section of many Hispanic and international supermarkets in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Some Hispanic supermarkets also sell frozen pupusas.
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