The days of my childhood I will never forget are those when I would wake up in a stuffy room filled with smoke. There would be water droplets on the wall and the smell of pupusas trapped in my room.
I would walk to the kitchen to see my mom singing out loud and clapping her hands to form the thin, round shape of the pupusa in her hand. She slaps it on the stove and picks up another ball of flour softened in water. She stuffs it with chicharon, pork, and closes the ball of flour to flatten it into the shape of a tortilla. The stove hisses when the new pupusa is added to the stove.
She has already made the salsa roja, a spicy red tomato sauce, and curtido, pickled cabbage and carrots soaked in vinegar and oregano, complements to the pupusas.
I eagerly accept three pupusas from my mom. She brings them to me on a plate and rips the whole pupusas into small pieces I can grab salsa and curtido with. There is nothing like that first piece of warm pupusa that enters your mouth. My whole body grows warmer as it travels down my throat.Despite growing up in El Salvador, my mom did not learn how to make the traditional food until she came to the U.S. and worked at a Salvadoran restaurant. She eventually began to make her own for sale. When she was unemployed at some point in my toddler years, she made pupusas for a living. Now, she makes them when people order them on holidays or for special occasions. I have had them for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, and more. The last time I had them was when she made them for me at a send-off party a few days before I left for college. They were my special request. I wish more people knew about pupusas. I find it difficult explaining what they are because I have so many memories attached to this one dish. However, I enjoy introducing people to pupusas because I have never met a person who does not like them and I feel that I am sharing a part of myself with others when I talk about pupusas. Salvadoran culture helped shape me into the person I am today. This is one of the few tangible ways that tell me this is so. I have never been to El Salvador, but I know that I am from there. My mother’s stories are mine. Whenever I eat her pupusas, I am able to view her life experiences. I feel the closest to my culture. I am reminded of a part of who I am.