Tianxin and La Pupuseria

I think it’s a beautiful thing that a Norwegian/Irish white girl and a Chinese girl can walk into a Salvadoran restaurant to get food without even the thought of how none of this would be possible without being so beautifully connected, especially by food. I mean, all of the waitresses still looked at us like “what are these ignorant non-latina girls doing here?” but still, beautiful.

My date, Tianxin, was a talented and genuine person from head to toe.

She’s truly the whole package and she’s going to hate this firm and direct acknowledgement of her greatness because she’s so unbelievably modest. Tianxin is really quite a beautiful soul. Her artistic talent touches upon every aspect of her life, whether it is her photographic eye, the layout of her entire room from top to bottom, her sense of fashion and minimalist outfits; it doesn’t matter (she’s also super sassy but we will get to that later).

Tianxin is also an AVID foodie, who’s cooking at times puts me to shame. It seems an artistic mind and a well trained palette go hand in hand. It’s not hard to imagine two artistic foodies having a good time on a friend date to a poppin’ Salvadoran restaurant.

The two of us go to University of Maryland, making it incredibly easy to get to Washington D.C. However, that’s not where we went, because…..

  1. We are broke college students
  2. We are lazy
  3. It takes too long and we are forever hungry

College Park, Maryland may not be the same type of cultural hub with vibrant, highly rated gastropubs and sushi bars. The vibe is more similar to hungover college students in line for Bagel Place repeatedly saying “I want to die” and “what did I do last night?” (I can’t honestly say that hasn’t been me). But there is a lot of authenticity in the restaurants nearby, especially those with specific cultural fair.The two of us really appreciated this realness… and cheapness. La Pupuseria was the perfect place to be that day.

Authentic Salvadoran pupusas and chicken tamales on a beautiful, hot as hell fall day, were all we needed. If you don’t know what pupusas are, I’m so sorry. It’s not too late for you to enjoy life. Go out and get yourself like three of them at least. So what are pupusas?

Pupusas are corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and usually other ingredients like beans, pork, and even flower bud (which is delicious, I recommend it). Usually these little disks come out with a cabbage slaw,  called curtido, and tomato salsa.

Tianxin and I took a seat in the front of the store, under the TV blaring soccer news in Spanish. La Pupuseria is a small joint, with tables close together making it rather intimate as you can hear practically every conversation or request to a waiter. We went during off hours though, so the place was not bustling to the brim. Unfortunately, upon arrival we were already hungry, on the verge of hangry but nonetheless enjoying our time together, joking around about nerdy artistic things and how we were going to die of hunger soon. The one draw back about La Pupuseria is the food takes FOREVER, hopefully because they are making everything fresh and in that moment that you order.

The best advice I can give you when frequenting a Salvadoran restaurant is to order your pupusas as soon as humanly possible (like before you even walk through the door maybe).

Our waitress approached, and rather excited about practicing my Spanish I was about to order when my date jumped in before I could get a word out. Chicken tamales, pupusas with beans and chicharon (pork, another recommendation). And these were enjoyed along with the wonderful conversation. If the other patrons of the restaurant listened to us, they probably thought we hated one another. There’s no end to the sarcasm and put down fest between the two of us. Tianxin tells me straight when I’m being a whiny b*tch or when I really need to stop opening up my cooking services for everyone on a Saturday night when I’m clearly rather tipsy. This is, of course, only bad in her eyes if she’s not already just as gone as I am. Then it’s the two of us with our wine glasses in the kitchen.

So we chatted along through our meal, but in the end I was still itching to practice my Spanish. If you hadn’t already seen from my blog posts, I really enjoyed my time in Spain which motivated me even further to continue learning Spanish. When our food came out, the waitress forgot to bring two forks. I went up to the counter and said in plain Spanish,

“Tiene un tenedor?” (Do you have a fork?)

She answered in English. All of them looked at me confused, gave me the fork, and watched me walk back to my table, feeling a little defeated and disappointed. As Tianxin can tell you, I didn’t let this go, not even after eating the most amazing five dollar meal I’ve ever had. I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect date.

And the next day, she didn’t even ghost me.

She even listened to me complain again about my Spanish-less encounter. If that isn’t true friend-love, I don’t know what is.



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