Day 103: Nica Cheap Eats Reader

Overland miles: 4637 Tacocount: 73 Days without sodas: 6

The more observant Prawns For Breakfast reader will have noted that, whilst we have been in Nicaragua for a while, we have not talked about the traditional food available from its street corners and comedors (local no-nonsense eateries). We’ve been shown sexy shots of hot chocolate and tasty pics of phat tapas, I hear you murmur, but what of the cornucopia of everyday flavours that Nicas can’t get enough of?

The easy (and unfair) response would be that there’s nothing to write about, because Nicaragua doesn’t boast a very bold or diverse cuisine. And it is true that their most celebrated dish, Gallo Pinto (‘spotted rooster’) contains just two ingredients: rice, and beans. Occasionally in a moment of gastronomic inspiration the pair might be fried together with some onion and garlic, but in reality giving a carb combo enjoyed by half a dozen Latin American countries its own national title is flattering to deceive. It’s a bit like us Brits referring to a sponge and raisin pudding as ‘spotted dick’. It’s unnecessary and a bit twee. Just call it arroz y frijoles already.

And it’s also a fair charge that the seasonings don’t do much to liven up the sides. In compete contrast to the loco amounts of chillies and other spices with which Mexicans load their fare, in Nicaragua you are limited to a distinctly pedestrian bottle of chilli salsa – usually Linzano – and admittedly cute pots of salt that look exactly like the Daleks from Doctor Who. 

Season! Season!

But we believe that to use these examples to deride Nicaraguan cooking as instantly forgettable is glib and lazy. You just have to delve a bit deeper and follow your nose. In no time at all we discovered a wealth of lip-smacking, inexpensive grub right across the west coast of this vibrant nation. So we duly road tested a whole bunch of local specialities under US$6 (£4.00). Our search took us from the hearty, almost East European city snack of Vigaron – served on a banana leaf and heaped with pickled cabbage – to the Mediterranean influenced focaccia wraps of fresh Pacific fish by the beach. We’ve compiled a brief, photographic menu reader to showcase some of our favourite cheap eats over the last two weeks. !Buen provecho!

Clockwise from top left:

Day 88: Casualita (fried bean and cheese hotpot) served with chilequilas (tortilla chips), Picharditos – Leon

Day 90: Grilled pork with gallo pinto, city centre comedor – Leon

Day 91: Vigaron (yucca with pork scratchings and pickled cabbage), Quiosquo El Gordito (‘Fatboy’s shack’) – Granada

Day 93: Ceviche Mixto (shrimp and fish cocktail) served with plantain chips, Playa Hermosa – San Juan del Sur

Clockwise from top left:

Day 98: Jove enjoying fish gyros at Bad-ass Eats – San Juan del Sur

Day 100: Plato completo of fried chicken, Santa Cruz comedor – Ometepe

Day 101: Repachetos (toasted corn shells filled with grilled cheese) topped with cabbage salad, Ojo de Agua – Ometepe

Day 103: Beefsteak and onion stew served with tortilla, Altagracia comedor – Ometepe

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