Now that fall is setting in, it’s time to switch from lighter fare over to hearty comfort food. When I think of comfort food, cuisine from El Savador is not something that immediately jumps to mind, but after sampling a selection from the Guanaco Food Truck, I am thinking that these delicious plates will indeed fit the bill as we usher in the cooler days.
The truck is parked at Robson and Seymour and vaneats.ca is currently offering “Guanacombo” , a $9 deal which consists of: Pasteles, Yuca Frita, Pupusas, Bebidas, and Curtido. El Salvadorian food is largely based on corn, so for those gluten-free eaters, this is an added bonus.
Pasteles are a deep fried maize pocket stuffed with beef or chicken, cheese and vegetables. Their version is served pipping hot and had a crunchy exterior yielding to a cheesy gooey filling. Despite being deep fried the pastele was far from greasy, although definitely on the rich side due to the cheese. The pasteles are typically served with curtido, a cabbage slaw with some kick and a zippy vinaigrette, and Guanaco dishes them up this way, and the slaw compliments the rich dish giving it balance.
Pupusas are perhaps the most classic item in the El Salvadorian diet. These are a thick corn or rice flour tortilla with a combination of either cheese, squash refried beans, pork or chicken. Guanacombo does Revueltas, seasoned pork with vegetables, cheese and savoury refried black beans, Queso Y Frijoles, savoury refried black beans, and a mixture of fresh and aged cheeses, Ayote, savoury refried black beans, cheese and zucchini and Pollo, seasoned chicken with vegetables, cheese and savoury refried black beans. I chose the chicken version and found it a bit pasty, which I think was due to it being slightly undercooked, but I enjoyed the flavours and the chicken itself was something I’d like to sample on it’s own.
Yuca fritas, or deep fried cassava root, are also on the platter and their version had a crispy exterior and fluffy inside. These too are typically served with the slaw, which again balances the flavours. There was also a well diced salsa-like dip that I scooped up with these, adding to the enjoyment.
You’ll need a drink to wash this platter down, and your choices of Bebidas include Horchata, a traditional beverage made of morro seeds, ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tigernuts and vanilla, Tarmarindo, a chilled beverage made from the tropical tamarind fruit or Cebada, chilled beverage made from flavoured barley, coloured with crushed seeds. I sipped a Tarmarindo which was refreshing, slightly sweet, but not overpowering.
I’m interested to delve into this cuisine more and try a few other versions of the trucks fare. At these prices it’s definitely doable.
Here’s my pals at Vaneats.ca video on the package (they did comp me the platter fyi).