Wondering About Nicaragua Food Specialties you should try?
Nicaraguan cuisine has quite a bit of influence from the mesoamerican cultures. This, with the added fact that it was part of the Spanish Colony of New Spain (Mexico) for three centuries, means that there is a good amount of influence from the Mexican and Spanish culinary traditions.
Perhaps the most Nicaraguan of foods is the “gallopinto”. This is a mixture of rice and beans that is usually spiced with a variety of herbs that give it a distinct and unique flavour. Gallopinto is present for all three meals in Nicaragua. For breakfast you will enjoy it with eggs, cheese, and cream; for lunch and dinner it will accompany whatever else is on the plate. Another staple that is always on your plate, is the corn tortilla. This accompanies all meals, from breakfast to lunch and dinner, and is extremely versatile.
Amongst the most popular Nicaraguan plates is the “vigoron”, which as its name clearly states, is a truly invigorating meal. This dish is the equivalent to Honduras’s Chicharron con Yuca (fried pork rinds with steamed yucca). Tamales are also a regular, although they are present more during special festivities.
Not to be missed is the “Indio Viejo” a true Nica specialty made of corn flour patties and shredded beef, cooked with vegetables and spices. Another specialty is the Sopa de Albondigas, or meat ball soup, which is a chicken broth with breast of chicken meatballs that is truly a Nicaraguan dish.
Because of the proximity to both Oceans, as well as the huge expanses of fresh water due to Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, the regular diet for Nicaraguans usually includes fish or some kind of seafood. One of the true delicacies of foods available in Nicaragua are the river shrimp from the Rio San Juan. These are large fresh water shrimps that are usually cooked with garlic and are absolutely delicious.
Very typical of Leon and surroundings is the quesillo. Quesillo is a tasty soft cheese. It is usually served on a corn tortilla and then generously garnished with an onion sauce that gives it an outstanding flavour. The most famous towns for quesillo are La Paz Centro and Nagarote. Both located on the new highway between Managua and Leon. There are a series of different restaurants located right on the road side in both towns that offer the nationwide famous quesillo. Don’t miss the rosquillas, a traditional slightly salty corn bread. Rosquillas have the form of a small, thin donut that are very popular in Nicaragua and Honduras.
Native Fruits and Juices
Nicaraguans like to have a natural fruit juice or “fresco” with their meals. One of the most delicious and unique drinks is the fresco de cacao! This is an original drink that you can order in restaurants and eateries throughout Nicaragua. Tamarindo (tamarind) and flor de Jamaica (hibiscus tea) are also very popular. Calala, passion fruit in English, makes for a refreshing tasty drink that will surely quench your thirst.
The typical Nicaraguan natural fruits are unique. I highly recommend the Calala, or Passion Fruit, which grows on a vine. The Granada, a large green cousin of the Calala also grows on a vine is very common. It has a unique taste and is very common here! The Pitahaya, a small reddish cactus fruit is very common and extremely tasty.
A strange unique fruit that native to Central America is the Marañon, or cashew in English. Yes, this is the same as the cashew nut. It is unique because it has the seed on the outside of meaty apple shaped fruit that tastes nothing like the cashew! This fruit can be yellow or red, and apple shaped or a somewhat elongated apple. The fruit has a strong aftertaste to it. As with any other tropical country, fruits like mangos, bananas, apples, watermelons, cantaloupes, avocados and citrus are all found in Nicaragua. They are readily available at markets and supermarkets.
Last, but not least, the nicas love to nibble on small little fruits. These are abundant and diverse! The most popular ones are the jocote, nance and nispero. All of these are small, and have a seed inside them. They do not have much meat to them and the nance is quite aromatic.
If you have the time while in Nicaragua, visit a market. You will love the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables you will find available. It can be a true culinary experience to try sample each of those that are unknown to you! Also you will find many food stalls at the market that offer typical carne asada and shish kebobs. These are always accompanied by tortillas and of course the pico de gallo, a mix of onions, tomatoes and green peppers that is abundant in Nicaragua.