Typical Foods and Beverages
It is a tradition of the towns located on the plateau, from Masaya to Nandaime, to feed pilgrims and promisees during the festivities dedicated to the town’s patron saint. Most of the dishes derive from maize. Jinotepe, Diriamba, and San Marcos are famous for their festive dishes called “picadillo, ajiaco, and masa de cazuela or indioviejo”.
In Masaya, they go all out with corn pastries, foods, and drinks called rosquillas, chicha de maiz, corn with ginger, nacatamales, arrozaguado, pig’s head, pork with casaba and oxtail soup.
Corn: Our Root
Legend attributes the discovery of maize to Quetzalcoatl, a mythical-historical figure, hero of a civilization and guide of the Mesoamerican peoples, said to have placed a grain of corn on the lips of the first man and woman, so that, while eating it they may “work and think”.
Corn is one of the basic staples of the Nicaraguan diet. A large part of its culinary culture incorporates corn into its recipes as a sole or mixed ingredient. A vast variety of foods, drinks, and desserts are made of maize and form part of the Nicaraguan’s daily diet.
Nacatamales and other types of tamales are born of this dough, among the tamales we have: tamal de masa and tamalpisque with the advantage that they may be kept for a few days without refrigeration, and are popular for long trips.
Tamales can be stuffed with many ingredients, but the best of all, is the Nacatamal. There are different types of Nacatamales: The cacique Indio (The Indian Chief), big, pure, with no foreign additives, with lots of chili and spices. The Ladino, (The Crossbreed); mixed with potatoes, rice, and a few olives. The Nacatamal for Parties “High-Life”: With prunes, raisins, capers in thinned dough that disappears in four bites.
Corn mixed with a little bit of cheese opens a vast horizon of delicatessens. The classic albondigas (dumplings) eaten especially during lent, the delicious buñuelos with honey, perrerreque, rosquillas, hojaldras, viejitas, and the rellenas, everything that is known as “Cosa de Horno” (Baked Stuff); and, last but not least of the baked corn goods: the Jinoteganpupusas.
Humble and modest is the pozol, boiled and ground corn, with a piece of alfeñique (made from sugar cane molasses), it turns into a drink capable of competing against tiste de panecillo, or any cola drink.
A Guide to Nicaraguan Dining
Baho ----Nacatamales ----
Plantain and beef stew
Thick, fried, green plantain chips
Toasted cooked corn with cacao, pepper, and cloves