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Gallo Pinto

Nicaragua is a country that overwhelms the senses. The intense sun, abundant animals and pervasive music collide with the sound of occasional rain drumming on zinc roofs, the sight of vibrant colors, and the smell of wood fires cooking huge cauldrons of beans. The result is a sensory experience that will leave your head spinning.

It is the richness of these sights and sounds that infuse the Nicaraguan food with its powerful tastes and flavors. From gritty corn drinks (Pinol) and sweeter corn drinks (Atol), to tart juices like that from the skin of a pineapple (cascara de piña) or the puckering flavor of the Nancite fruit, Nicaragua’s gastronomic offerings are as diverse as the country itself.

Chief among Nicaraguan cuisine is Gallo Pinto. The rust-red-tinged dish of beans and rice can be found in all regions of the country and is a flavor unique to Nicaragua.  Granted, other nations have traditional dishes of beans and rice, but nothing can compare to some home-cooked Gallo Pinto.

The dish is prepared by frying white rice and red beans separately and then frying them together. The result is a super-fried, red medley that derives its name as a result of sharing the same color as the comb of a rooster. Gallo Pinto is consumed in the campo as well as in the city, and is generally eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It can be accompanied with cheese, chili, meat, or bread, but is so tasty as to be enjoyed alone. The Pinto is tastiest when it is fresh off the fryer, but refried versions add a bit of crunchiness. Great pride is taken in the making of the Pinto, so if a plate is exceptionally tasty, or the texture just right, then a compliment to the cook is in order. 

Many visitors to Nicaragua develop a taste for Gallo Pinto, but trying to replicate it without the wood fire, the massive amounts of oil, or the rich flavor of a fryer seasoned by generations of use and the country itself is nearly impossible. 

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