Savannah Weeks
Savannah Weeks
Nicaragua 2016
I will be traveling to Managua, Nicaragua to work with Manna Project International. For two months, I will teach English and nutrition education and help improve the health of those living in Managua through diet and exercise. I plan to work with girls and women, who are most at risk. Read More About Savannah →

This Briefly Becomes a Food Blog

So, I figured since I’m going to Nicaragua to work in nutrition related programs I should learn a little bit about the traditional food that’s served there. A good friend helped me out by giving me Nicaraguan Cooking: My Grandmother’s Recipes by Trudy Espinoza-Abrams. After perusing the recipes, I found two that seemed relatively simple to make and didn’t require hard to find things like iguana or turtle meat. The first is indio viejo (the old Indian), which is a soupy beef dish chock full of vegetables and flavors. The second is atolillo, a spiced vanilla custard that reminded me of Christmas.

Here’s what I learned during my cooking adventure:

  • Culantro is not the same thing as cilantro. Culantro (eryngium foetidum) is related to cilantro (coriandrum sativum) and is often described as a stronger version of cilantro. It is native to South America but is cultivated all over the world.
  • Achiote is a spice commonly used in South and Central American cooking. It is made from ground annatto seeds and gives food a vibrant yellow color. It’s also used commercially to color things such as butter, cosmetics, and some cheeses. I couldn’t find straight achiote paste at Kroger, so I used a spice blend of achiote and culantro.
  • Corn is a staple of the Nicaraguan diet and is in every kind of meal, from main dishes, to drinks and desserts.
  • While alligator meat can be used in place of turtle, there is no substitute for iguana.
  • Lastly, Nicaraguan food is delicious.

Making indio viejo with my trusty assistant.

You can find an indio viejo recipe similar to the one I used here, and an atolillo recipe here.


The finished product for the atoliilo.

As they say, barriga llena, corazòn contento.

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