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Check Out this Kickstarter Campaign to Bring Pupusas to New York City

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for an El Salvadorian restaurant in New York City.

Randy Rodriguez

Randy Rodriguez is trying to open Cabalito, an authentic El Salvadorian Restaurant in NYC that specializes in Pupusas, the traditional food of El Salvador. He was born in California and raised in Vermont with a strong El Salvadorian influence. He moved to New York City when he was 20 years old and has been working in the restaurant industry ever since. Currently, he is working toward his dream of opening an El Salvadorian restaurant to embrace my culture and inform the everyday New Yorker about eating affordable, authentic, and delicious pupusas. We asked him a few questions...

1. What is traditional Salvadorian food?

The pupusa is undeniably El Salvador's claim to fame. A pupusa is a gluten-free corn masa tortilla traditionally stuffed with bean, cheese, and/or various meats, typically accompanied by a crunchy, savory side salad called curtido and a red salsa. Beside pupusas we have different traditional dishes such as Sopa de Res (beef soup), Panes con Pavo (turkey sandwich), and Plato Típico (breakfast plate).

2. How will your background and culture shape the restaurant?

My background is very different because my heritage, birthplace, childhood, and current city is all different. So I want to take a little bit of everything I learned in life into this restaurant. Without a doubt the decor will be very Salvadorian. I want to have traditional music playing and artwork from Latino artists. I also want to utilize all my knowledge from every restaurant I worked at in New York to shape the restaurant. I have worked in many different establishments that not only taught me a lot about the restaurant industry but also about business. I want to be a very smart operation but still be appealing to the customer. I think it's important to have that balance. Being able to but yourself in both shoes is key. Working in a restaurant requires "wearing a lot of hats" and I feel that I have a closet full of them.

3. What different special things will you find in a Salvadorian kitchen?

In the kitchen you will always find music. I hope that the culture from El Salvador will be carried on throughout the restaurant. I noticed that in El Salvador the cooks are always wearing handmade aprons. My friend who owns a pupusaria in Brooklyn always wears an apron from El Salvador which inspires me to keep that tradition.


4. What is the secret to a great Pupusa?

There are a few important keys to make a great pupusa. I think the most important is the masa. The masa has to be the right texture. Not

too soft and not too firm. This was a huge challenge for me in my first batches of pupusas. Making the perfect curtido is very important because I've had many friends say that the side salad is what pulls the whole dish together. I believe in fermenting the curtido so is juicy and savory. I hate eat pupusas with dry curtido. I also really enjoy a pupusa when the cheese is leaking slightly outside the masa. That certainly adds an extra touch!

5. What ingredients will you use in the Cabalito kitchen?

Cabalito will without a doubt have fresh ingredient. The curtido will be made fresh daily. I want to also experiment will different ingredients to go inside the pupusa. There are fillings in El Salvador that are standard but I want to explore a little more. I want to keep traditional ingredients like chicharrón (pork), loroco (Salvadorian flower), and queso (cheese). I also want to see if we can use ingredients for the New York tongue. I am aware that people are conscience of what they put into there bodies. I would love to try tofu, veggie meat, and other vegetarian and vegan options. I also want to try pupusas will chorizo and chicken which are not typically eaten. I want the ingredients to be fresh and enjoyable for any customer.

Published August 23rd, 2014