Grand Central Market is a landmark in downtown L.A.. Not as widely known as the L.A. Farmers Market, it is a bustling gem of an open air market set amidst historic architecture. Each aisle seemingly teleports you to a different region of the world. My pioneering visit got me caught up in Central America, specifically El Salvador.
One of the busiest stalls in the market was Sarita's Pupuseria. The prevailing smell was that of wonderfully lard-y corn masa. I've never had El Salvadorean food, so ordering was a bit of a shot in the dark. Given the name, I knew I had to get a Pupusa. But I also ordered a tamale as a safety net, and added a fried plantain ball to live on the edge (bungee jumping is next).
I watched as the uni-lingual cook stuffed pork and cheese into a corn masa dough ball (and it wasn't English she was speaking, a great sign, if you ask me). It was flattened and griddled on the flat top. The result was a crispy exterior that yielded to a soft dough with an explosion of savory pork and cheese to complete the package. Sarita's Pupusas are complimented well by a side of tangy cabbage slaw. Awesome!
The fried plantain was a nice surpise. When plantains are deep fried, they mysteriously form a crispy exterior that resembles a batter. They are naturally tangy and are, more often than not, served in savory applications. The one I ordered had a creamy filling that was just sweet enough to make it a very pleasant dessert. I would definitely order it again. The safety net was completely unnecessary. It was a nice tamale, with a slightly different texture than the Mexican version, but nothing special. Next time I would skip the tamale and order an extra Pupusa. Or two.