Tackling another language is tricky, so it’s smart to start with survival words. Teach a man to say fish, and voila! He has dinner. Well, technically he has to say the right word for fish otherwise he may be served something that’s still swimming. In Spanish the word for fish that is still breathing is pez and the word for the fish you probably prefer to have on your plate is pescado. It’s like pig and pork.
Pescado is one of the most memorable foods you’ll experience in Central America. It’s fresh, cheap, plentiful, and delicious. Menus everywhere feature fantastic fish dishes ranging from the appetizer of ceviche (like a cold fish soup/salsa) to the most epic of entrees, the pescado frito entero. It’s a mouthful all right! A mouthful of mind-blowingly tasty fresh fish which is fried to perfection and served on a plate alongside accompaniments like succulent tomato salsa, tostones that will make you forget all about french fries, and a slice of lime if your tongue takes pleasure in an added tang.
Eating it is labor intensive, but that doesn’t seem to stop the locals or the tourists who discover how much flavor is packed into each piece of meat that must be picked off the bone. Yes, picked. First timers may approach the dish with their fork, but it quickly becomes clear that fingers work best. Pescado frito entero can be prepared with a variety of fish—the only requirement is that it must be fresh, and in Central America, lack of fresh fish isn’t an issue.
At any beachfront restaurant in San Juan Del Sur, this dish featuring an entire fish will set you back about $10. You’ll have plenty of money left to souvenir shop in town and just enough room left for dessert. Maybe next week we’ll share our favorite Central American dessert. Well, not the dessert itself because that we do not share!