Waiting For Pupusa

A Salvadoran restaurant just opened a block from our office. I went there for takeout at lunchtime Wednesday.

Ordered a guanabana shake and a pupusa, which is a Salvadoran tortilla, thicker than a pancake and filled with cheese, which melts as the tortilla is griddled. What to do while waiting?

Look at what's hidden in plain sight, of course.

I first wandered toward the entrance and the storefront window. To the right was a big self-service fridge for soft drinks. I looked down, liked the green ledge, the reflections and the edge of the beige curtain (first picture).

Then I looked up, liked the decorative cage on the end of the curtain rod, the orange wall, the purple paper sign, the scraggly strip of black tape, the buildings across the street and, again, the reflections (second picture).

The food was still cooking, so I peeked behind the refrigerator case, and found more curtains flush with sun and a plant perilously close to a fryer (third picture).

Then my shake was ready. Cold, creamy, tangy, with a hint of vanilla and banana in the flavor. Guanabana is a tropical fruit, also known as soursop, that was born to be drunk rather than bitten into. It has a spiky green hide and a cottony interior with big brown seeds bound by fibrous membranes. Just juice it.

I took a sip, put it back on the counter and looked at the TV above the passageway to the kitchen. A lot going on. Not just on the TV, which was tuned to Televisa, but everywhere in the frame.

Though nothing was in motion except the image on the TV screen, everything in the picture was in motion. Or so it felt. The fun was trying to balance and stabilize all the elements before the pupusa arrived (fourth picture).

I’m not sure I succeeded, but I can tell you I enjoyed the hot, cheesy pupusa. It came topped with a vinegar slaw (cut thicker than American cole slaw) and a side of thick salsa.

It’s finger food, but not of the decorous and manageable sort. If you take it back to your office, as I did, forget about typing or answering the phone until you finish.


By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown