We’ve all heard of, or experienced, the hazards of eating various foods in Guatemala. Whether it’s buying fresh vegetables from the local market, accompanying your pupusa with cabbage, or getting your favorite refreshing beverage chilled with a few ice cubes, you’re likely to get sick.. If not once, twice, or like some of us, who see the glass half-full and count the sick-free days. Luckily, your friends here at Xelawho once again have your back, providing you with some tips on how to avoid the dysenteric misfortune some of us have already experienced.
Wash your Veggies
A common practice back at home, but here in Xela you’ll need something a bit stronger than just plain old tap water to get rid of the critters on fresh food. Many foreigners and Guatemalans alike will use a few drops of bleach per liter of water, but for us at Xelawho, we prefer washing our lettuce with things other than the active ingredient in toilet bowl cleaner. Our infrequent trips to Paiz and La Dispensa (see “Markets” article) always include the trusty organic citrus vegetable cleaner, located in the veggie section. If you’re going to toss everything in a frying pan regardless, the heat will do the trick as well.
This is quite preferential, as some of us enjoy those deliciously deep-fried churros (of course with a side of chocolate-caramel sauce), the mystery meat garnacha tacos, and our personal favorite- pupusas in the park. Although these things are inarguably (ahem) delicious, they pose a bit of a risk for our most favorite Guatemalan companions, Mr. Intestinal Tract. Questions such as, “Was the same oil for my French fries used for the pollo frito just before?” Followed with, “Is the oil recycled from days, weeks prior?” And the ever-so-common, “What animal did that come from?” It’s these sorts of questions that keep foreigners safely tucked away in the equally as delicious, gringo-certified cafes around Parque Central. But never fear! Street food, done right, can be a flavor escapade.. and easy on the tummy, too. If a bit weary, order the pupusas without the fresh cabbage (as everything else is cooked). Buy your fresh fries from our trusty Parque Central fry-vendors, and away from the park, just check if the oil is clear. And, if you’re feeling carnivorous- go for the garnachas! Eating street food once while you’re here is a must, as many Guatemalan families make it a tradition for their Friday-night walks through the park. Like we said earlier, you’re likely going to get some sort of stomach bug, why not make it a well-worth it experience?