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Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Review: Logan's two pupuserias serve authentic, delicious Salvadoran home cooking

By Ashley Schiller

November 10, 2008 | Pupusas (poo-poo-suz) are as fun to pronounce as they are to eat (Go ahead, say it a few times). The simple Salvadorian corn tortillas may be stuffed with cheese, beans, meat or loroco, a flavorful flower grown in El Salvador and other Central American countries.

But you need not go south to get your hands on a great pupusa. Logan has two restaurants where Salvadorian natives will happily fry you up a few. Both sell pupusas for less than $2, so it's a great college student stop. But to which pupuseria should you go? I decided to do some on-site research so I could guide my fellow pupu-lovers to the finest source.

The Candidates:

The Pupuseria El Salvador
95 E. 1400 North
Logan

Henriquez Mexican Salvadorian Grill
256 N Main St.
Logan

Atmosphere:

The Pupuseria has a warm, "welcome-home" feel to it. Painted on the west wall is the seal of El Salvador and an illustration of a few women picking berries. Behind the register on a small shelf, there are half a dozen dollar bills folded into various animals. You know you're in an authentic, "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant, and it makes you feel important that you discovered it.

Henriquez has a lively, colorful atmosphere. Hung on the walls are vibrant striped rugs and round metallic decorations that look almost like Mayan calendars. A few dolls dressed in the same tones as the rugs sit along the front counter. The atmosphere is playful, but feels more mainstream, which makes you feel less original for eating there.

The Food:

At The Pupuseria, our waitress remembered me from the last time I came in and greeted my friend and I enthusiastically. After reviewing her helpful suggestions, we decided to get the revueltas (pupusas stuffed with refried beans and pork) and the queso con loroco (stuffed with cheese and Salvadorian green flower).

At Henriquez, the restaurant was empty when we arrived and the owner was our server. To make the comparison easier, we order the same two pupusas (The pupusa menu is almost identical). Henriquez is a friendly guy, and we chatted while our food was being prepared. Mostly we talked about driving in the snow and some of his wilder driving experiences since he's been in Cache Valley.

And now comes the tough part: comparing the pupu. For those who have not had to fortune to eat a pupusa, it is a 6-inch, pancake-like corn tortilla which is stuffed and fried. The beans and pork mix is similar to what you might taste in a Mexican taquito. The loroco has a flavor all its own, the most similar spice being perhaps oregano. The taste is subtle mixed with the creamy white cheese.

Pupusas arrive solo on the plate, but guests are supplied with a red sauce and a jar of cabbage mixed with vinegar, red chiles and cilantro. The pupusas at The Pupuseria are thinner, and the sauce and cabbage have more of a kick. (Note: Have a beverage handy for when a chile hits your tongue just right.) At Henriquez, the pupusas are fatter and have more filling. Because of the thicker shell, the corn taste is more exaggerated. The sauce and cabbage were milder.

At this point, the preferred pupusa depends on your personal taste. My friend and I were divided in our opinions. I like my food a little zestier and I'm more into the filling than the corn meal, so I give the prize to thin 'n kickin' pupusas at The Pupuseria. My friend liked the robust but more mellow pupusas at Henriquez.

So really the better restaurant depends on your personal taste, although The Pupuseria wins in the atmosphere category.

What was nice about both restaurants is that you can't help but feel valued as a customer. Both are run by Salvadorian families and you leave knowing that they want you to come back. The warmth of the Latino culture is as enjoyable as their food.

NW
MS

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