Billy Collins 1 a.m., March 13
Aphrodisiac? Sexy pupusas at I.B. Farmers’ market
El Salvador's Gastro-Embassy's right by the pier...
Aphrodisiacs at a farmers’ market?
That’s what they say about pupusas with the loroco flower buds in them.
Seems loroco only grow in Central America. So I keep looking wherever I see the word “Salvadorean” pop up.
And here, paydirt! I’m standing beside a flapping flag that looks like it says “Pup USA.” But oh no.
Great. I come up to where Armando and Maria are working away cooking up a grill-load of these little round pastry things.
Look like tortillas, but thicker, and with, like, swollen bellies. Think gordita, but not quite so gorda.
I spot flavors like spinach, cheese, frijoles, pork, and a few others.
“What are the most popular?” I ask Armando.
“Pork,” he says, "and Spinach."
They’re busy. I have to make a quick decision.
“A spinach and a pork,” I say, without thinking.
I pay over…think it’s eight bucks. Maria tosses my two onto the hot plate.
That’s when I remember about the danged loroco effect I've been looking out for.
“We do have them,” Armando says. “You can loroco flower buds imported up here, but they’re hard to find.”
And yes, the legend of the qualities of the loroco flower, or quilite (“edible herb”) is alive and well. Aphrodisiac, and a pretty herby taste.
Meantime I bite into the hot and hot (like, hot temperature, straight off the grill, plus a muy picante hot dipping sauce) pupusas.
Pork paste is plentiful, and the spinach one’s surprisingly flavorful, with that fresh espinaca taste that has you thinking Greek.
Plus you get a pile of Salvadoran curtido,a lightly fermented chopped cabbage with red chilies and vinegar.
Actually, what I like most: the pastry. Yum. Corn flavor, and best of all, the texture: crispy outside, soft inside.
The word “pupusa” comes from the Salvadoran Pipil language. Kinda cousin of the Nahuatl language. Makes you think of “papoose,” which is Algonquian, far away from Central America. But maybe that idea of something wrapped up all cozy made it across the continent.
Whatever, people have most likely been munching just like I am, on the same things for three, four thousand years.
Armando and Maria haven't been around quite so long. They've been doing this on the farmers’ market circuit for five months. First time I’ve seen them.
But not the last. I’m coming back, hunting down the loroco pupusa. Strictly for the taste, you understand.
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