Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 5, 2012 8:31 AM Last Post By: enroutesiglo
Nov 4, 2012 2:49 PM
VegetarianismMy friend and I are both vegetarians, we are traveling around Nicaragua for three weeks next month. We are both wondering how easy it will be to find vegetarian options while traveling and what are some suggested plates/dishes if there are any. We are also wondering if it is considered impolite to ask for variations on the menu to cater to our vegetarianism. Thanks.
Nov 4, 2012 2:59 PM
Nov 4, 2012 3:03 PM
I just got back from a month in Central America, I was traveling with my wife and teenage son who are both vegetarian. They actually did not have much trouble finding vegetarian options, although there were many meat plates, there were a few vegetarian staples that were consistently on the menus across Nicaragua, one being "Quesillas" (cheese, tortillas, vegetables). I wouldn't be worried if I were you about asking for vegetarian options, as long as you ask in Spanish, the Nicaraguan people are very friendly and helpful.
Edited by: dmayhew
Nov 4, 2012 3:06 PM
3Be prepared to eat lots of rice and beans! You shouldn't have any problems with the expat owned restaurants and hotels to cater your needs. If you are a strict vegetarian be forewarned that locals tend to recycle cooking oil for their fried eggs, plantain chips, sweet bananas with oil used with meat, so that may be an issue. So the veggie friendly food you may find in the markets and other local eateries may have meat. Vocab for you: gallo pinto, arroz y frijoles, Maduro frito, Tajadas, tostones, queso, tamale, . Also many hostels in the city have kitchens so once you have had you fill of rice and beans cook yourself a plate of veggies from the local market!
Nov 4, 2012 5:45 PM
I am also a (strict) vegetarian and I actually found Nicaragua one of the easiest places to find veggie food. Most of the main cities such as Granada and Leon are more touristy so there are plenty of options, especially if you are willing to pay a bit more. I agree with the above comments, you will eat a lot of rice and beans if you are on a tight budget but there are always restaurants that offer great choices if you get sick of rice and beans! I know I did! Though Gallo Pinto was my favourite dish in Central America. The people in Nicaragua were extremely friendly and helpful to me. Enjoy!
Nov 4, 2012 7:13 PM
5I think it is easy to be a vegetarian in Nicaragua or anywhere in Central America AS LONG AS YOU DON'T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT THE KITCHEN. The fact is that rice and beans and many other theoretically vegetarian dishes are seasoned with meat or cooked with lard or, as noted above, are prepared with oil that has been used to cook meats. That's why they taste so good! As long as you're not too strict and don't look too closely you can find plenty of "vegetarian" options.
Nov 5, 2012 3:04 AM
Nov 5, 2012 5:03 AM
7General kitchen cleanliness aside, the whole "lard" thing has been less and less true over the last decade: it's become much more common in Central (and in general, Latin) America to use vegetable oil for beans and frying, not only because of the cost but because of shifting public opinion.
OTOH, virtually all tamales will be made with lard (manteca), as well as other special prepared foods, though these days sometimes that isn't even animal based, but more of a vegetal margarine type gunk.
Learn to explain carefully – which is not offensive in the least, just like explaining to people in Indonesia why you don't want dog soup – and find clean looking places and you'll do just fine.
Nov 5, 2012 5:09 AM
Nov 5, 2012 5:25 AM
Nov 5, 2012 6:18 AM
Nov 5, 2012 8:03 AM
11Here in the store (Costa Rica) one can only buy the manteca vegetal, looks like the govt. has banned the pig fat variety...
Original manteca sure was lard, helped generations of poor folks survive....
Nov 5, 2012 8:31 AM
12Interesting point, I just had a conversation out here in rural northern Mexico (la Huasteca) where someone insisted that their manteca was vegetarian and I didn't believe it till I saw the package. As with the beans/oil thing, it seems like part of a changing attitude in general, though trans-fats in palm oils probably aren't too much better for you.
OTOH they were selling the pig kind with a similar-looking wrapper in the store, so it's def worth checking. Would be nice to have more tamales for a change... :D
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