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Food Surprises in Granada, Nicaragua

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© Jen Murphy
Hawkers sell bags of mustard and fermented veggies at Granada's Sunday market.


En route from my eco-island adventure to a beachy tree-house paradise (more on that Monday), I had a chance to spend a Sunday afternoon wandering Nicaragua’s colorful, historic town Granada. I was told I had to stop in at The Garden Café for breakfast and to order the chompipe—egg, cheese, turkey, tomato and avocado on a flaky, buttery croissant—but it was sadly closed on Sundays. Instead I was directed to El Zaguán, which I was told served the best steak in town, if not all of Nicaragua. Huge cuts of local beef and guapote (a bass caught in Lake Nicaragua) were being cooked on a big, open grill while dueling mariachi bands played in a corner. I didn’t expect to find great steak in Nicaragua, but my filete churrasco was excellent. The upside of being in town on a Sunday is that the market—a mishmash of produce and items that looked like they belonged in a convenience store or thrift market—was packed with locals, and people were idling around in the town square. I got a kick out of all of the locals drinking from small plastic bags that looked like they should contain a pet goldfish. Apparently, juices (and, as one local informed me, moonshine) are sold in plastic baggies, and you just pop a straw in and drink. At the market, the baggies also held everything from homemade mustard and salsa to chile peppers and pickled vegetables.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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