Travel Themes » History & Culture
No doubt Nicaragua has a wide variety of excellent and tasty traditional food and drinks. The Nicaraguan, pre-Columbian indigenous groups used to use corn as a main ingredient for preparing almost any kind of meals and beverages. They would also take advantage of hunting wild animals such as iguanas, armadillos, deer, snakes, and other. This type of gastronomy remained intact for almost two thousand years until the arrival of the first conquerors. Still today the Nicaraguans are called “Hijos del Maiz” (Sons of Corn).
Spaniards brought new ideas with them and introduced to the Americas some new elements such as cow meat, pork, chicken, oil, and spices. From this very moment a blending between the Pre-Conquest culinary culture and a European cuisine happened. Still today corn represents an important part of Nicaraguan food and some wild animals have not disappeared from some people’s diets.
A remarkable aspect of Nicaraguan food is the freshness of its ingredients; seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, spices, and grains.
The very traditional breakfast is “Gallo Pinto”, a mix of refried beans and rice along with fresh cheese, a hot tortilla (made with corn) and a delicious cup of hot coffee. Also another special breakfast but mainly served on weekends is the “Nacatamal”. This is an authentic pork meal wrapped in a type of banana leaf along with corn dough, potatoes, tomatoes, rice and chili, cooked overnight during several hours.
Some regions of the country have their own popular local meals but at the same time they turn out to be national dishes as well. As an example, the “Vigoron” is Granada’s original creation. It is a dish that consists of boiled cassava, pork rind, salad, and chili served in banana-leaf. This special meal is also found in other places of the country in markets, parks, restaurants, and small local business. Other types of traditional meals are “Indio Viejo”, “Baho”, “Chancho con yuca”, and an endless list of more local dishes.
Some sidewalk barbecues, called “fritangas”, offer great possibilities to discover and taste other types of popular meals. These are very common, families run restaurants where inexpensive meals are prepared. This includes slices of ripe and green plantains, barbequed chicken, beef or pork, fried beef tacos (not the Mexican style), fried cheese and enchiladas (fried tortillas filled with rice and beef).
Beverages vary as much as the number of meals and it is definitely amazing to find out how creative Nicaraguans are when making or blending different types of tropical fruits. “Pinolillo” is a very refreshing drink, based on ground roasted corn, cocoa beans and cinnamon. Innumerable natural fruit drinks are very common in Nicaragua. Have you heard about “Pitahaya”? This is one of the many exotic fruits of Nicaragua. This one grows from a climbing cactus and it has a scaly red skin color.
Another tropical, typical and common drink in Nicaragua is the “rum” under the brand “Flor de Caña”. From the sugar cane factory in Chichigalpa, located in the northwest of the country, a high quality, worldwide renowned product of aged rum is produced. Flor de Caña” (Flower of sugar cane) is the base of our national cocktail: “Macua” which is a mix of white rum, orange, guava, lime juice, syrup.
Beside all those drinks, during your trip, in the most remote part of the country, you will always find a cool Victoria or Toña. These are the two leading Nicaraguan beer companies.