Nicaragua on the table

by Ainara Casajús


Home seems to be not so far when you eat like a queen just next door. Maria del Rosario Peralta (known as Chayito) owns the “Cafetín Universitario”, the little bar of the Regional University UNAN León in Somotillo. She can be named after the buzzword of entrepreneur. She opened up the business some years ago, after cooking at home and selling door-to-door (the most common job among women in this town), and she noticed that students could be a profitable group to provide with food, drinks and school material. The menu is a single dish, prepared by Chayito and Digna Yanek Cardenas, samples of the local gastronomy. One must hurry, as there is food for about 35 people only.

I can say that Nicaraguan people is quite conservative about cooking. The two pillars of every meal are white rice and red beans. Among all the existing varieties in the continent, Nicaraguan people choose to eat everyday red beans. These are so important here that the government started a program months ago named “Frijoles Solidarios” (Solidary Beans, literally) consisting of selling beans at around c$15 per pound as their prize in the market has increased alarmingly due to drought and exportations. Besides rice and beans, the ordinary dish usually contains meat, generally chicken, some salad and a tortilla or cooked banana (fried, stewed or boiled). No matter the time of the day, this combination is often eaten both at lunch and dinner.

On the contrary, “frescos” (juices) are much more diverse: guayaba, calala, coyolito, banana con leche, tamarindo, mamón, etc. due to the wide variety of fruits in the region. All of them are quite sweet but served very cold, necessary when average temperature is around 35 degrees.