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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Column: Epic aventura pupusa

Remember the days when we were young and were forced to eat things we didn’t like? We’ve all been there, stubborn children refusing to do what our parents tell us because we think we know what’s best. I was four when my parents dressed me up for Halloween as a cute little clown. I cried because I thought I was ugly and I wanted so badly to be a fairy princess instead. My dad and I got as far as the edge of our front lawn before I had a meltdown and didn’t want to go any further. My friend tells a similar stubborn child story of when she was young and refused to eat what was on her plate. Week after week, my friend kept refusing to eat what her mother made for dinner, and eventually she won; her mother gave her what she wanted.

Now, Halloween is around the corner and you probably expect me to share a scary food story with you (it starts with spoiled milk), or maybe you expect me to talk about my amazing idea for a costume (a marshmallow) or just maybe you want me to tell you my Halloween plans (buy candy, sit inside my apartment with the lights off, eat candy and hide from trick-or-treaters). But I’m not going to give you what you want, because it’s lame and expected (except for my marshmallow costume idea which would be comfortable as well as practical). Instead I’m going to share with you, dear reader, a story about a group of friends who go on an Epic Pupusa Adventure. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be hungry. It’ll be great! And you really have no choice. The story goes like this:

It was a cold and windy day three years ago and my friends and I were driving on Hwy. 113 toward Woodland. The smell of hay and cows was overwhelming, and there was no escaping it in the car. Why would my friends and I go to Woodland three years ago, you might be wondering? To look for the best pupusería in all of Northern California.

And I’m just going mention that if you’ve had the misfortune of living your life without tasting a pupusa from the Pupusería la Chicana, you haven’t lived life. What’s a pupusa, you ask? Well calm down, man, I’ll tell you soon.

Eating at the Pupusería la Chicana has been by far my favorite college restaurant experience. The first time my friends and I drove there, it took us over an hour to find it. Most of us were ready to head back toward Davis, but my one friend, Yana, wasn’t ready to go. She was the reason we were driving all over Woodland, and she wasn’t in the mood to turn around yet.

When we found the Pupusería, located in a rundown strip mall called Purity Plaza hidden behind some trees and a Long John Silver’s (now closed), we were less than thrilled. My one friend looked at the outside of the Pupusería and hinted that it might have been a Taco Bell at one point (which it was), while I noted a man who might have been glaring at us from a taquería across the parking lot (which he was). When we walked inside, the smell of Salvadorian treats made our stomachs grumble. We were ready to order pupusas.

Side note: Everyone I know, and this includes picky eaters, vegetarians and unhappy people, ALL love the Pupusería’s pupusas. A pupusa is a round, handmade tortilla filled with what I can only describe as tasty goodness. At the Pupusería, you have a choice of two of the following: beef, cheese, pork, beans, loroco flower or squash (and you can ask if they have more options).

After we ordered our meals, which were surprisingly cheap (they just upped their prices but your food will always ring up less than $8), the smiling cashier came around to give us our complimentary chips and beans. We wolfed them down in less than 10 seconds, and when our pupusas came out, we were not disappointed.

When you go to the Pupusería in the future (notice the threat in my words), I would try ordering any of the following: pupusas (around $2.30/each), a torta cubana (around $7), two or three tacos alambres (89¢ each between 5 and 10 p.m.), the special of the day (usually around $5), or whatever looks interesting. If you’re adventurous like my dear friend Yana, then you’ll let the cashier surprise you with your order. You definitely won’t regret eating here.

Now for the food tip of the week! On Oct. 29, Trader Joe’s opens at the U-Mall, and I’m recommending buying EVERYTHING from there. That place is organic and CHEAP. Holler!

JENNIFER RICHWOOD wants you to find the Pupusería la Chicana fan page her friend made on Facebook and like it with all your heart. E-mail her at jcrichwood@ucdavis.edu to tell her about it.

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