The Food Column: Pupusas in the Park

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My (vegan) husband Jeff and I were recently in Palms Springs attending a vintage flea market and, after a successful day of buying antique-y stuff, we were hungry. Of course we have our favorites in Palm Springs, chief among them Palm Green Café (I love their Caesar salad!), but this is a new year and I was promised new eats, so we didn’t go there. Instead, we drove over to Cathedral City to Fernanda’s Salvadorian Food for some vegan (for Jeff) and nonvegan (for me) pupusas. 

The strip mall it’s in is home to other restaurants; at first we weren’t sure which one it was, until we saw the line of people waiting outside, looked up, saw their sign and knew we found the right place. I was so excited—I love pupusas! Thick corn (or rice) tortillas stuffed full of beans, chicharrón, loroco (a leafy vine with edible flowers native to Central & South America), cheese and other tasty stuff and griddle fried until they are all hot and yummy with some crunchy curtido slaw & salsa roja. I’ll take four.

Jeff ordered his three vegan cheese pupusas: one spinach, one zucchini and one loroco. I ordered my four nonvegan pupusas: one cheese and loroco, one chicharrón, one zucchini and one cheese and chicharrón. We got a side of fried plantains to share; Fernanda’s was nice and gave us both vegan and regular cream on the side.

We drove to a nearby park for a picnic and proceeded to dig in. Our first thought was, “Oh wow, these are big, hot and thickly stuffed full of yummy goodness!” Both of our cheeses were melted and super gooey. 

I tore mine apart and slowly pulled it open so the cheese got everywhere, put some slaw on it, dipped it in the salsa roja, closed my eyes and enjoyed.

The pupusas were hot; the cheese burned my mouth but the slaw and salsa instantly cooled it. The loroco is sweet and slightly nutty. Jeff’s spinach is just as good; there were green leaves in the dough, mixed in the cheese and in his teeth. Next, I tore into the chicharrón—it was super meaty and mildly seasoned, which is fine by me, because spicy and I don’t always agree. The slaw was so fresh and crunchy I wish we had more, and the salsa roja was delish (sometimes they are just tomato water, but this was a little thicker, seasoned and tasting like real fresh tomatoes).

The plantain was amazing—darkly caramelized outside, soft and sweet inside.

Now you may ask, “Aren’t you lactose intolerant?” 

Yes, yes I am. 

“But you ate a boat load of cheese!” 

Yes, yes I did. And yes, I regret it, but dag nab it, it was totally worth the month of mucus, intestinal issues and itching skin I suffered. And yes, I would do it again, but not for a while. In the meantime, you can try it yourself:

fernandasrestaurant.com

34351 Date Palm Drive Cathedral City, CA 92234