A pupusa is a traditional El Salvadorian dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese, chicharron (cooked pork, ground to a paste), refried beans, loroco, zucchini, and other vegetables. Pupusas can also be made from rice flour and are typically served with curtido and salsa de tomate.

A Very Tasty History

Pupusas were first created centuries ago by the Pipil tribes who inhabited the territory now known as El Salvador. Cooking implements for pupusa preparation have been excavated in Joya de Cerén, “El Salvador’s Pompeii” – site of a native village that was buried by ashes from a volcanic explosion. Here, foodstuffs were preserved as they were being cooked almost 2,000 years ago. The instruments for their preparation have also been found in other archeological sites in El Salvador.

In the late 1940s, pupusas were still not widespread across El Salvador; they were mostly localized in the central towns, such as Quezaltepeque, and cities in the country. As the population began migrating to other areas in the 1960s, pupusa stands proliferated across the country and in neighboring areas of Honduras and Guatemala. These often had variations in shape, size or filling. In Guatemala during the 1970s, pupusas had a half-moon shape. The half-moon shape would be considered a half-eaten pupusa in the Chalatenango area; fish pupusas were uncommon, and pupusas served east of the Lempa River usually had a much larger diameter.

In the 1980s, the Salvadorian civil war forced many to migrate to other countries, mainly the United States. For the first time, pupusas became available outside the country wherever a Salvadorian community was found. Now, the dish is found in most areas of the United States, but is still eaten the traditional way: by hand. We think our home in Sterling, Virginia serves the best pupusas around. But don’t take our word for it: stop in for a bite! We’re sure you’ll love them, too.