One of my favorite things about travel is discovering the new, local food. I will try anything once and I love to sample everything. I’ve been in Nicaragua for about a
Typical Nicaraguan Food: Fried plantains, beef (or chicken or pork), rice (usually with beans mixed in) and a cabbage salad. Divine!
month and I have been enjoying the food quite a bit. It could use more spice and I miss real cheese. Nicaraguan cheese is similar to feta, but it doesn’t melt and it’s quite salty. I like it, but not as much as a good Vermont cheddar. But I digress. Here some of my favorite Nicaraguan foods so far.
Nicaraguan Food – Eat on the Street
The great thing about street food is that it’s cheap and often fried, making it delicious, if not nutritious. But, you can also get snacks and fruit on the street and if you make an effort, you can be reasonable healthy eating this way.
Among my favorite street foods, this treat consists of a tortilla with a thin slice of cheese, wrapped around an onion salsa plus a healthy dollop of sour cream. I recommend you ask for it “picante” and “sólo un poco de crema” (spicy and just a little sour cream – for some reason the vendors are excessive with the cream, and I love sour cream!).
Street meat and a tona! Yum!
These are just delicious, usually packaged up in a banana leaf within a plastic bag and smothered in ensalada (cabbage and vinegar salad) and crema. Cheap too, expect to pay 15 cords, less than $0.50. Beware empanadas con queso. They’re tasty but I have never found cheese to be a part of them (a mystery!). They taste sweet with some type of cinnamon-like spices.
Papas y queso
A big ball of mashed potatoes with a tiny bit of some type of melting cheese inside, fried and served as above, in a banana leaf, with ensalada and crema. Yum! Also around 15 cords.
This is both a restaurant staple and easily found on the street. It’s pretty much the national dish of Nicaragua and is made with cheap, easily available ingredients. And it is divine. In short, it’s bed of boiled yuca covered by shards of chicharrones (fried pig skin – although it’s sometimes topped with pork meat) and topped with a cabbage and vinegar salad. You’ll also find this bagged up and sold on buses before you leave the station. Forks not provided, however. Locals use their fingers.
Peeled jocote, a honey covered dumpling and unripe mango slices, with salt and chili. All bagged up and ready to go from the street vendors.
And finally, a healthier option. Fruit is sold everywhere in bags that are easy to take on the run. There are the regular, every day options, like pineapple, mango, papaya and watermelon, which are sold pre-cut in either mixed or solo fruit bags. And then there’s the exotic such as jocote (not my favorite) or unripe mango, which is amazingly tart and satisfying. The mango is sold with salt and chili and is quite delightful. This is all sold depending on what’s seasonally available.
Another special dish that can sometimes be found on the street, is Baho (or vaho). It is one of the cornerstones of Nicaraguan cuisine and is delicious and very hearty. Beef, plantains and yuca (cassava) are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed over water in a large pot. Baho is special occasion food – cooks start the recipe days before by marinating the meat. Vaho means “mist” in Spanish and evokes the unique cooking method for this hearty meal. Expect to pay more for this dish (70 to 90 cords) since it is a time intensive and meat rich recipe. Worth it!
Hamberguesas y Hot Dogs
Why not? These have become a staple of Nicaraguan street food and they have their own delicious take. My favorite are the extra large burgers – when the vendors hand them to you they say “OH BABY”. Adorable!
When choosing to eat on the street, some rules apply. Look for a stand that looks reasonably clean, where others, preferably locals, are eating. If a vendors food is unsafe, the locals will know. They won’t necessarily advertise it though. Eat where you see locals eat and you should be fine.
What’s your favorite street food?