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Eating out was inexpensive and good. You can find great food in the markets and at the comodores where the locals eat.  

 


Even when you go to what you think is an Americanized fast food place, you can land up with some interesting things.  John ordered French toast and received little hot dog buns at a sidewalk restaurant in Granada, Nicaragua.



What is a  Comida Tipica?


Eating in was not so easy.

I found the meat unattractive to buy in the mercado. It was very lean and therefore tough, and I was not familiar enough to tell the butcher which part of the carcass to hack off for us. Chicken was more recognizable.

A solution is to ask him to grind some beef for you, but this is not recommended. Even though the cut might look good, you donít know how clean the grinder is. Cut your meat into small pieces or take a grinder with you that you can clean yourself.

We took a precious supply of frozen meat with us. The large supermarcados sell familiar prepackaged, plastic-wrapped meat, however, it is still very lean and therefore tough. Note that all meat and fresh produce was taken from us at the border to Belize.

We bought what vegetables looked good on any particular day. Produce didnít last so we usually shopped each day. Lettuce was hard to find as were most green vegetables. We did find one great vegetable stall near Cuatros Caminos, on the Pan-American Highway just outside Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (this is a major intersection bustling with activity).  They had a great variety fresh supplies of cauliflower, beans, beats and other fresh greens.

Bananas became a staple and it was a great opportunity to try some of the unusual and very tasty varieties that abounded. The very small ones are very sweet and flavorful. Mangos and melons could be found everywhere

There are cashew nut trees growing all over the place. They can even be found as part of the landscaping in cities, growing on the median strips. The fruit is all pulp and very juicy. It is a little too bitter for my liking, but many people enjoy it. The interesting thing is that the nut is on the bottom of the fruit, rather than inside it. The shell is almost impossible to crack.  The nut is thought to be bad for you, if not poisonous, if eaten raw. I have been eating raw cashew nuts my entire life. Both nut and fruit are said to be good for the kidneys, a concept probably drawn from the shape of the nut. Enjoy!

Regional supermarkets can be found in the major cities.  Wal-Mart is in Mexico and have plans to enter Central America.  They stock just about everything you would need, even if some of the items like peanut butter and cornflakes were rather expensive.  There are six Hiper Paiz stores in Guatemala and two in El Salvador.  They have their own security and every time we asked they said we could park in their lot. 



Hiper Paiz is the Wal-Mart Supercenter of Guatemala and El Salvador

 

Hiper Paiz on the northern outskirts of Guatemala City at the Intersection of the Pan-American Highway and the Anillo Periferico (by-pass around the city)

Individual size water bottles became a premium so we refilled the ones we had from the five liter ones that were readily available.

 

Dog food was available in the supermercados as well as pet shops in the larger cities.

 

Comida Tipica


Contribution from Kathe Kirkbride and Colleen Regan


Each country has what they call a `comida tipica' which is sort of a `blue plate special' type of meal. You usually have a choice of two or three types of meat or fish along with beans and rice. My favorite cheap meals are from Costa Rica as I really like the beans and rice combo called Casado (married) and the fried plantain that comes with it. In Honduras the rice is cooked in coconut milk and that adds a little extra flavor. Colleen likes the carne de res, beef in a sauce, served with the beans and rice. In El Salvador the comida tipica is pupusas which are corn tortillas filled with either cheese, chicharron, or a greenish flower and they were a big hit with us at 4 for $1. Another great comida tipica is Posole Verde which is hominy cooked with pork and green chile sauce and is one of Larry's favorites. The worst meal Larry ever had was at Pete's Place in Santa Fe, Honduras and consisted of mostly frozen vegetables that were freezer burned.


Corn tortillas are mostly omnipresent south of the border except in Panama where you have to look to find them. Mexico's tortillas are about 6" in diameter, thin and pressed with a small machine and are better than the ones we get packaged in the US but the least tasty. Guatemalan tortillas are thicker, made by hand and about 3 1/2 " in diameter. In El Salvador they are also small, thicker than the Guatemalan ones and made by hand. Colleen and I think El Salvador and Guatemala get the prize for the best tortillas and Mexico the worst. Joyce and Larry have just the opposite opinion about the best and worst tortillas.

We ate some pretty strange things while we were in Mexico and Central America. Fried intestines, cow's foot soup, fried grasshoppers, and cow's head soup are some of the strange items. Some of them were good and some wouldn't merit a second try.


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