A Pupusa Festival For A Good Cause

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Pupusa, the Salvadorian national dish, is in good shape up here, and it will be the protagonist of one of the most popular gastronomic festivals in northern New Jersey.

Two organizations, Grupo Folklórico Cuzcatlán and Líderes Salvadoreños Unidos, have joined forces to carry out the 6th Pupusa Festival, which will take place on September 4, from noon to 7 pm, in the West New York municipal parking lot, on Madison Street between 57 and 59 streets.

The pupusas, whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and mean big tortilla, are prepared by hand and cooked over a metallic grill. They consist of two layers of corn tortillas and can be filled with cheese, revuelta (fried beans and pork rinds), or pork rinds.

According to Víctor Domínguez, one of the organizers, last year’s attendance was of about 4,000, including children. There was cumbia music and entertainment for kids, and this year promises to be even better.

Salvadorian Olga Fuentes, from Tipico’s Olga Restaurant in Dunellen, Middlesex county, won the prize for the fastest pupusera: According to organizers, she prepared 12 pupusas in nine seconds.

Olga arrived to New Jersey as a very young kid. She didn’t know how to cook and never imagined that 20 years after moving here she would have such a skill.

“My mother, Francisca Benitez Cruz, taught me how to cook,” said Olga. “I think that I pat [the pupusas] faster than others, and that’s why I make so many of them. In the restaurant sometimes we make as many as 300 a day.”

The organizer Domínguez said that the festival is a benefit for the El Salvador children. That’s why attendants are charged the symbolic sum of $1.

“Every year we choose a province or department,” he said. “This year is the turn of the Escuela Especial de Mejicanos in the city of San Salvador, a school for disabled children who have extremity deformities. There, they are trained to have independent lives.”

In 2015, benefits went to the Salvadorian Autism Association in the San Miguel department, in the city of the same name.

“Autistic kids are often a little hyperactive, and this city is known in El Salvador for its extremely hot weather because temperatures decrease only one month a year. So we focused in using the money to buy refrigeration machines for the classrooms,” said Domínguez.

Reporte Hispano reached out to Doris de Mexicanos, who works at the Salvadorian Autism Association, which has two support centers for autistic minors in the San Salvador and San Miguel departments. She said that they used the money to buy two air conditioning systems, as well as school materials for 50 kids.

“I find that Salvadorians living in the U.S. are doing a very positive job. This is a way to let us know that they do not forget the land that they have left behind. Thanks for not forgetting us,” said the official from San Miguel, El Salvador.

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