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Guatemalan cuisine - the final stretch

I'll be returning to the US anywhere from Februrary to May of this year depending on how quickly the US Embassy processes our papers. I still have a lot of pending third quarter reports that I'll get to. I was preoccupied with Spanish school in the past few months.

However, I thought I'd get this final section started with the New Year's Day meal at a relative's house.

The first photo is the basic kitchen set-up for many houses in Guatemala. No oven, just a stovetop fueled by Z-gas a company that provides the canisters you see below the stovetop for cooking.

There's a supplementary wood-fueled grill next to it. Out in the yard was a poyo topped with a comal to heat tortillas. A poyo is a few cinderblocks put together with a wood fire in the center. It is probably the most common type of stove in much of Gautemala.

The first step was going down to the river to get the fish. There's a farm near there and the owner asks how many fish you want and goes off and catches them.

The ladies then gutted the live fish in the pila, a sink that everyone has in Guatemal ... country or city. The pila is made of concrete and has three sections. In the middle is the deepest with a hose and running water. There are two shallow basins on each side. The photo below is the pila we have at home. We have a regular kitchen, as do many, but there's always a pila somewhere. Antigua Daily photo did a great series on building pilas
http://antiguadailyphoto.com/tag/guat...

While the fish was frying, iceberg lettuce for the salad was chopped up and washed in the pila in a large bucket filled with water from the hose. At home, something is added to the water when washing most veggies. I didn't see that here ... and yet I live.

The requisite live poultry and house dog wandered around the yard and kitchen.

As always in Guatemala, the fish was fabulous. The skin crisp, the white flesh moist and delicate. Forget about all the dishes you think you should eat in Guatemala ... pepian, kak'ik, etc. The stars of this cuisine are the fried fish and grilled meats.

The lettuce was a refreshing compliment, lightly dressed with oil and vinegar. The tortillas with nice char marks and a smokey touch from the fire were constantly replenished hot off the comal throughout the meal. Coca Cola for the kids and Gallo beer for the adults .. ok, the men plus me ... the woman in our family don't drink.

This relative has banana plants and a bunch of bananas was strung up on the porch and people pulled off bananas to eat after dinner.

It was a nice way to start the New Year.

Should anyone have a missionary attitude about the living conditions ... one son is in med school, two cousins are system engineers, the husband has a good job in a local company. There's a brand new truck in the yard and a pretty nice home video system inside. There's often this contrast in Gautemala of the modern and ancient worlds coexisting.

Guatemalan Cuisine – 3rd quarter report
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/758058

 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. What an amazing experience you are having. Enjoy the last stretch of it. Thanks for sharing it with us again.

    1. TORTILLAS

      When my long-time Guatemalan friend, and I guess cousin now by marriage, learned he had diabetes, the doctor told him to eliminate tortillas. He said “I can’t live without tortillas”.

      I thought this was over-dramatic. I just didn’t understand until I moved to Guatemala and learned what a basic part of life they are for all Guatemalans of every economic level.

      I’ve written a number of times over the past few months that there is a minimum of one tortilla shop on every corner. Signs announce tortillas are made “los 3 tiempos” … breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      People line up to get hot tortillas for each meal, three times a day.

      When I first arrived, we went to the beach and made a stop for tortillas. I was floored. In the middle of dense trees there was a tortilla maker, with only a few sheets of metal for a roof and walls.

      We didn’t get them because the wood for the fire had not yet arrived. Today I finally had the chance to stop and take some pictures.

      What really nice and wonderful ladies. As you can see they were totatally amused by the pictures and immediately said “si” when I asked if it was ok. The tortillas hot from the comal were tasty with a touch of smoke from the fire. They are especially great if you add a little cheese while they are hot and eat immediately.

      The contrast in the different tortilla makers can be jarring. I’ve started taking photos which are in this Flickr photostream.
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/7685047@...

      In this post, the last two photos are of a modest shop in Guatemala City and the tortilla lady at Las Velas Hotel brunch buffet a Antigua's t Las Velas Restaurant in the ritzy Hotel Camino Real.

      I paid $27.50 USD for that brunch buffet (it was well worth it). Today I paid 5 quetzales (63 cents) for a stack of tortillas 8 inches high.

      I’ve had white tortillas, yellow tortillas and black tortillas. There are probably some I have yet to try. Seriously, Guatemala has the best tortillas I’ve ever eaten.

      What is Guatemalan cuisine? It starts with the tortilla.

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      1. Awesome. I have never seen a black tortilla. Is the texture different? (Did you post a while back about black pupusas?)

        4 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima

          me either!

          Reminds me of the French and their daily bread....

          RW, when you get back, i want you to go try that place in the Mission i told you about - Palacio Latino (Guatamalan restaurant), and tell me if you think the tortillas come even close to your experience. They are the best tortillas I've ever had, but, somehow, I think they might pale in comparison to those you've been lucky enough to try in the last year. Which is just astounding to me.

          but then again, reminds me of the French and their daily bread! (Tho we do have pretty great bread here in the Bay Area nowadays....)

          1. re: mariacarmen

            Yes, thanks for the tip about Palacio Latino. As I said, I think freshness is a big factor.

            In my Flickr photostream, I have another tortilla maker in Masagua. This chick was there day and night from before 5 am in the morning till 9 or ten at night. I noticed she wasn't there in the past week. In fact, there is now a store there, instead.

            I asked about this ... did she move?

            It turns out that the price of corn is going up and it not as profitable to make tortillas lately. There's not really an option to raise prices or give fewer tortillas without a major revolt.

            When I first moved here, I remember one tortilla lady raising the price ... maybe 5 tortillas for a quetzale instead of six. Not only did everyone talk about her like a dog ... I understood enough Spanish to know the ladies in town were not happy ... but everyone went out and bought their own bags of masa to make their own at home.

            The thing is, they really are somewhat of a PITA to make, so that didn't last long.

            Also, something I never considered, but when discussing the lady who just closed down, I was told about the occupational hazard of being a tortilla lady ... you get a lot of burns on your arms. Look at those leaping flames in my photos.

            Even if the comal is heated without flames, it is still a hot griddle and no one is using a spatula to put the tortillas on the grill or take them off. That is done with your hands ... so there is no escaping being burned on occasion.

            I'm still not clear where we get out tortillas and bread. I don't walk around town much because the heat is just too much for me. However, I decided to check out the local fair and noticed two houses down that there was smoke coming from the back yard.

            There seems to be a tortilla lady there. There really are a lot of them that just sell out of the house like that lady.

          2. re: luckyfatima

            Yeah, I had black tortillas twice, once at Godspel in San Felipe (first two photos) and once at Sabe Rico in Antigua (last photo)
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/747960
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/752599

            People here say that black tortillas are "suave" ... smooth. And they do have a smoother, softer texture than regular tortillas.

            With tortillas is is difficult to describe what that elusive quality is that makes one rise above another and some elevated to food worthy of the gods.

            The black tortilla at Sabe Rico was good, but honestly, if you blind-folded me and I took a bite, I bet I wouldn't know what it was made of.

            On the other hand, the black tortillas at Godspel were sheer magic.

            Some of it has to do with how soon they come off the griddle. Godspel had two tortilla ladies making them to order.

            But there also might be the masa factor. Some of the black tortillas are more blue than black. That is obvious from the second photo of the uncooked masa at Godspel ... love that a handprint is still in the dough.

            So there might be different varieties of corn being used in different areas. There are some varieties of corn so specific that they are only grown in a single town. Often, the women of certain families are the ones to cultivate and pass down to the next generation how to raise that corn ... some of it said to have mystical or medical properties. More in my post here

            There must be 47 maize to please your corn lover
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/747638

            Some people start totally from scratch, grinding the corn to make the masa. For some it is from a bag of masa flour.

            Certain towns seem to specialize in them.San Lucas Sacatepéquez nearish Antigua was the first place I saw them with almost every vendor selling them. San Felipe is almost all black tortillas. The town where I went to see the giant kites for Halloween had vendor after vendor selling black tortillas.

             
             
             
            1. re: rworange

              Thanks for the follow up. I wish I had a way to taste it! I am living vicariously through your pictures and info, enjoying the beautiful food scenes.

          3. BAKED DUCK

            There are two things I hated before moving to Guatemala … extreme heat and the taste of duck.

            When I’m asked where I live and say “Masagua”, the first comment from every single Guatemalan is “It is so hot there”.

            I’ve probably had duck a minimum of once a week for the past few months … pepian, amarillo, tamales … especially tamales … Chinese dishes, French dishes, etc.

            The duck I’m getting to appreciate … at times. If someone knows what they are doing, duck can be quite tasty. That's not to say I haven't had dreadful duck here and everything in between duck dish heaven and hell. While it is still not my poultry of choice, there is some delicious duck.

            The heat I still hate.

            Many Guatemalans don’t have ovens, only stove tops … if they are lucky. Otherwise, it is an open fire in the yard.

            That means there are lots of grilled and long-stewed dishes, but not much in the way of roast meat.

            Bread and sweets are from the local pandederias and pastelerias which dot almost every block.

            People just don't bake much at home ... or usually ... at all.

            The menu of a local Chinese restaurant lists poultry “al horno” … baked (horno=oven). It turns out not only can you buy a baked chicken, duck or turkey, you can bring in your own poultry and have them roast … or rather … bake it.

            We have an oven, but it is a small one. For my husband’s birthday it was decided that baked duck would be the dish. So, wishing them adios, four of our backyard ducks were dispatched, de-feathered and delivered in a large plastic basket to the Chinese restaurant to be baked..

            That’s Donald, Huey, Dewy, and Louie in the basket. I’ve got to stop naming the poultry. It only leads to heart break … but eventual deliciousness.

            However, I knew these ducks … they were bad ducks, bad ducks. If care wasn’t taken they would attack the baby chicks. Pecked to death by ducks isn’t just a funny expression like I thought. Not funny at all if you are a pollito. So, no one was that sorry to see the gang of four get their turn on the rotisserie, so to speak. They had a kinder, gentler end than some of the baby chicks they did in.

            While we were waiting at the counter, another customer came in for their dish. They had their own roasting pan. If you don’t bring a pan there are aluminum dishes for an extra charge. This ain't environmental concern ... it has to do with being economical. There is often a charge for plastic bags even at street markets.

            I was surprised that what we had was not whole roast ducks, but rather Chinese duck with veggies. I pulled up a roast duck photo on the web and asked and was told that was not “al horno” but “rostado”.

            I’ve enjoyed the food at this restaurant in the past, so the duck dish was tasty as well. It was served with tortillas, rice and ensalada rusa … a pea, diced carrot and diced potato salad mixed with mayo.

            Included was a bowl of fresh made chilitepe sauce. These are tiny peppers the size of BB’s and one of the best things I’ve had in Guatemala. It is like a bell pepper and a jalepeno mated .. there is the fresh crisp pepper taste with a bit of heat … but not too much.

            I’ve had chilitepe sauce with Chinese food in the past and cilitepes have an amazing affinity for Asian dishes. This sauce also had lemon juice and chopped onions and when added to the duck dish it was sheer magnificence.

            As to the duck “al horno”. Earlier in the week we had, Daisy, the sister of the birthday ducks. All ducks were the same age (3 years) and the same breed … same mother.

            Daisy was in a pepian, a long-stewed dish, and even though we’ve had a lot of duck pepian before, this was perhaps the best and most memorably good dish I’ve had in the house. We still had the spices from the Christmas tamales so the pepian was from scratch and not the usual packaged pepian helper.

            Stewing made Daisy amazingly tender, the flavor deep and rich. The Chinese duck al horno or baked, was tasty enough, but not as wonderful as the pepian preparation. The meat was a little firmer and not as flavorful. Still … with a little chilitepe sauce, it eleavated the dish to greatness.

            And … I like ensalada rusa anywhere, anyplace … even on the same plate with Chinese duck.

            Hmmm … given the heat … they probably could have just left the duck on the kitchen counter and it would have roasted itself. I know the coffee in my cup stays piping hot for hours on end.

             
             
             
             
             
            9 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              i don't know enough about it, so talking out of my as, but it is interesting that duck is so popular. i know that turkey also features prominently in Yucatecan cooking.

              And the Chinese influence... reminds me of Peru. But I'm sure you've already posted about that before and I just missed it.

              "Sacatepéquez" - do they use the word "sacate" for grass in Guatemala? (I know they do in Mexico, but In South America it is "pasto".) Or is that a name that is actually a phrase? "Sacate" means "take it off", as in "sacate tu abrigo" - "take off your coat". But i don't know what "péquez" means, if anything, so maybe it's just a name.... just curious.

              ok, lazy me, just googled it. it does refer to grass, it means "grass hill". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacatep%...

              I love these three posts. your tales of the ducks are great, as are the descriptions of the women burning their arms making tortillas. Wish we could try black tortillas here...

              Pics are wonderful too.
              enjoy yourself further! and thanks.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                I asked my stepkids what the word for 'grass' in Guatemala, showing them a photo on the web. It is grama.

                Sacatepéquez is Nahuatl dialect and has nothing to do with Spanish.

                As you read in that link, it is one of the 22 departments in Guatemala, the equivalent of states in the US ... sort of like saying Springfield, Illinois, as that is a common city name in many states.

                It is the department where Antigua is which is surrounded by hills. I am guessing before the coffee farms existed, these were grass covered hills.

                There is not only the department of Sacatepéquez, there is one called Suchitepéquez (flowery hill) ... which was a pain because I was attaching departments to specific dishes and had to go back and correct some because I didn't catch the similar spelling originally.

                Hmmm ... I guess I'll add Nahuatl to my resume for languages I'm familiar with ... not.

                1. re: rworange

                  But i grew up hearing Mexican and Central American kids call "grass" "sacate" - and the link says the name translates to "grass hill". did you ask your relatives if grass is ever called "sacate"? i'm not disputing it's a Nahuatl-origin word, but that it is used by Spanish speaking people in Central America.

                  and weirder still - googled "grama grass" and got all kinds of sites for Bouteloua - a blue grass.

                  oh tis a tangled web .... ( :

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    http://www.wordreference.com/es/en/tr...

                    I have no expertise in this, but maybe Guatemalan is more Mayan so they don't say zacate? We say 'Central American Spanish dialect' just as a label of convenience like US Southern English, but really there are huge differences between Texan Southern and Georgian Southern and even within Texas there are differences, differences between ethnic groups, urban to rural, etc. So you have some words like 'pisto' which I think are pan-Centroaméricano, but loads of other words which are country and region specific.

                    I looked for zacate con zeta, it is for sure Nahuatl-related. We usually think of Central American and Southern Mexican indigenous words as Mayan, but there are also Aztec related languages spoken in the region.

                    That is curious that they don't say zacate for grass but there are the place names Sacatepéquez and Suchitepéquez, but they don't have the strong Nahuat influence of nearby countries??? Are those cities in a place that is in a Pipíl belt?

                    Nahuatl language family related Pipíl/Nahuat gave so many words in Central American dialects (e.g. my favorite word cipote---very centroaméricano and is Nahuat/Pipíl) and these Nahuat words make up the backbone of the Caliche dialect of El Salvador.

                    But I will ask on the word reference forums just to see what they say about zacate in Guatemala.

                    Out of curiosity, do they say cipote in Guatemala?

                    On Pipíl/Nahuat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipil

                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      Zacate means hay in GT.

                      In the cookbook "False Tongues and Sunday Bread" the author writes about the regional differences in food based on the indigenous population

                      "“Guatemala, with the largest number of Indians, the home of the Maya, has logically developed its cooking in direct proportion to their number, leaning heavily on the turkey and the fruits and vegetables that originated botanically in Central America. Next came El Salvador and Honduras, with some Indian tribes or villages but with less Indian influence on the cookery, which depends more on Spanish ideas. Nicaragua, with its Miskito Indians, a Caribbean coastal group, has a mixture of foods that can be considered eclectic. Costa Rica, is an almost exclusively non-Indian nation and the cooking is based on the fertile tropical countryside and indigenous adaptations of the foods, both old and new of the region”

                      And that influences the food terms. Right now I'm eating Act II poporopo ... GT being the only country to call popcorn by that name

                      Here's a link about how differnt foods are called different names in Spanish speaking countries
                      http://spanishexperts.blogspot.com/20...

                      Don't know about cipote. My Spanish hasn't progressed that far and I'm mainly around the kids at home where the stronges word usually used is 'feo'. .. a different use of 'ugly' as in bad
                      http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/...

                      I'm not sure how much the language is influenced by the Mayans whose languages include: Achi’, Awakateco, Ch’orti, Chuj, Garifuna, Itza’ Ixil, Jakalteco, K’aqchiquel, K’iche’, Mam, Mopan, Pocamchi’, Pocomam, Popti, Q’anjob’al, Q’eqchi’, Sacapulteko, Sipakapense, Tektiteko, Tz’utujil, Uspanteko, Xinka

                      That is not just some historical footnote. Those languages are actively used today. This weekend I'm going to Lake Atitlan for a Mayan dinner cooked by a woman who speaks no Spanish. I forgot which of those dialects she speaks.

                      And like too many countries, the idiginous people are not highly regarded (and visa versa, they don't think much of non Mayans). So, how much crossover there is is difficult to say ... well, at least for me at this time.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Interesting, thanks for the links. Yes, feo can mean bad or terrible like a feo event or mood, or a feo day. Language and semantics are really interesting. Oh, also cipote just means a child (cipota is feminine), I didn't know it was also a bad word, learned something new. I think despite the heavy Maya presence there is clearly some Nahuat/ Uto-Aztecan influence on the Spanish dialect in GT, it shows with zacate. Off to read your links!

                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          Ah, but i you read that link, it can mean dimwit, moron or prick in some countries ... so I don't think I'll go there at home. I don't remember it being used. Children are either ninos or muchachos ... chicos if they are teens.

                          Anyway, email me if you have any other language questions. I'm driving up to Lake Atitland for the Mayan dinner with an English teacher ... that is, someone who teaches English to Guatemalans

                          1. re: rworange

                            Hahaha yes I had asked you to test it out on the kids, read the link and quickly edited just in case you accidentally shouted "¡Oigan, cipotes!" and it is a bad word in GT. I have been asked before if my daughters were my "cipotas" and heard people refer to their kids as cipote, used like MX "mijo" from Salvadorans. Just curious about the usage in GT. I heard it means kid in Honduran, too. I wonder where it means idiot, or if it can mean both in Centroamérica just like some of our English words have a double meaning? Well, enjoy your Mayan dinner!

                        2. re: rworange

                          interesting link, about the different vegetables and what they're called in different countries, but they mistakenly state that "chuño" and "tunta" are a small type of potato in Bolivia, when they are actually a preparation - freeze dried potatoes. which has to make me wonder about the rest of their lists. but it's all fascinating stuff!

              2. LA FERIA – TOWN FAIR

                A week long fair came to the tiny town of Milagro. There were food stands, games, a rodeo, parade, dances, firecrackers, fireworks and carnival rides that included three Ferris wheels … two hand-turned.

                I really can’t tell you what the occasion was. When I asked people, they always paused to think why. I got some sort of story about it having to do with the Virgin Mary and they just got around to celebrating a holiday which occurs in December.

                To tell you the truth, I think they just have a yearly fair in town.

                Here was some of the fair food, Guatemalan style

                This Flickr photostream has photos of more food and some non-food events like the parade (unless the local beauty queen throwing candy to the crowds from her pick up truck float counts as food-related … nah, didn’t think so)
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/7685047@...

                GARNACHES: This was my introduction to these Guatemalan nachos served at fairs. They were cocktail-sized tortillas fried in lots and lots of oil, topped with perhaps a pork mixture (wasn’t sure) and finished with a dollop of tomato sauce, then sprinkled with cheese. On the side there was escabeche, yellow cabbage, orange-colored lemons and salt. So far, I’m not a garnache fan. More info here
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763234

                I have to appreciate that these were served on real plates ... earthy-friendly because paper plates are too expensive.

                ELOTE LOCO: Similar to Mexican elote. The corn is slathered with mayo, sprinkled with cheese. The Guatemalan version then adds squiggles of catsup, mayo and green sauce. I’m not a fan of the Guatemalan condiment red, white and green holy trio which is squirted on everything from French fries to pizza. The hot green sauce that I love in other ways just overtakes the taste in the condiment trinity.

                The corn itself looked really good, but was tasteless type that is sold in this area. IMO, this corn variety of corn is suited for masa or cattle feed. The ‘three salsas’ didn’t help perk it up.

                CHURROS: These were the round coiled type. You could have them drizzled with chocolate sauce or condensed milk. There were two stands with churros … one used ancient oil. Had I any stomach room I would have went with the vendor who was selling the churro in the photo below. Some fairs at certain times of the year also sell buneulos.
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/12/...

                POPOROPOS, PLATANINAS AND PORK RINDS: While this is my first feria, I’ve been to a fair number of festivals which also have these stands. Usually the churro stand sells other bagged snacks such as popcorn, pork rinds and plantano chips. Only the churros and plantano chips are fried in oil at the stands. The pork rinds and popcorn are pre-bagged.

                The white pork rinds the same, light airy texture of Chinese shrimp chips.

                The poporopos was just plain salted popcorn and ok. At a festival in Antigua, I bought golden bagged popcorn. The popcorn was saturated with margarine. It had a fake, yet oddly addictive taste, so I was disappointed this wasn’t the same. Guatemala is the only country to call popcorn poporopos.

                My first plantaninas were from a Mexican roadside vendor in an area lush with plantano trees. Tables groaned under the weight of fresh green, yellow and black plantanos. I fell in instant love with this crisp, fresh snack.

                Since then, I’ve had good and bad versions. Oil matters a lot and should be fresh. The vendors at this fair and many stands just buy bagged dried plantanos and just fry them. They just aren’t as good as a place that makes them starting with a fresh plantano.

                Another (and way better) popcorn / plantano photo here
                ttp://antiguadailyphoto.com/2008/12/11/

                GUATEMALAN CANDY: There were four stands selling colorful espumillas (meringues), unshelled peanuts and many candies made of seeds and nuts such as pepitoria. There was only one other stand selling sugar-based sweets. It is hot in Milagro and those candies don’t hold up as well as seed-based sweets. More on Guatemalan candy in this link.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/714083

                Antigua Daily Photo has some nice pictures of sweet booths at fairs
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2006/09/...

                PINCHOS: Kabobs. Meat on a stick.

                PIZZA: The same family had a section selling churros, plantaninas, pizza, pinchos, garnaches and elote loco.

                I was too full after the elote and garnaches. The requisite catsup, mayo and green sauce were on the counter to top the pizza. From Antigua Daily Photo ….
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...

                “A recent addition to the Guatemalan Fair zoo is the pizza kiosk … the typical Guatemalan town fair pizza is made from a less tasteful dough, only a light tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and ham; nothing more. You get your slice and normally add ketchup to it … The pizza booth may have posters describing their pepperoni or salami pizza even though they only sell ham pizza. Go figures!”

                It was funny, but true that the only type of pizza I’ve saw at this booth and othe festivals is the ham pizza … or rather formed ham that looks like bologna.

                CHEVRES: Hot dogs with cooked cabbage (not kruat) and squirted with catsup, mayo and green sauce. I’ve had a few of these elsewhere, so I didn’t bother with the two chevre carts at the fair.

                I didn’t see a French fry vendor, which usually show up at festivals. A link from Antigua Daily Photo about French fries at fairs.

                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...

                FRESH FRUIT: There was a little stand selling bagged fresh fruit such as sliced oranges, pineapple and watermelon. I didn’t get a photo, but here’s one on Antigua Daily Photo.
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...

                The garnacharia had these beautiful huge jars of pickled veggies, but they were just for decoration. Antigua Daily Photo has a picture from one artisan fair selling jellies and jarred fruit.
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/02/...

                LIQUADOS: There were two fresh fruit smoothie stands … four blenders … no waiting. And we are talking fresh, ripe, tropical fruit. None of that sad frozen fruit used for most smoothies in the US.

                This stand also had a microwave where you could buy Act II microwave popcorn. The ‘Chinitas” in the name probably has to do with the fact that you could buy microwave cup of noodles. Guatemalans are crazy about chow mein and noodle cups, sometimes adding catsup to them.

                There were four red sneakers on the top of this stand. I wonder why?

                GUATEMALAN TACOS: These weren’t the rolled version but similar to Mexican tacos. Usually those are called gringas but none of the three taco stands used that word. A pile of seasoned ground beef was cooked and kept warm on one side of the grill with onions on the other. It was a little early, so all the taco stands were just setting up and the meat was still on the pink side. It didn’t seem prudent to eat what at that point was carnival tartar.

                CHICKEN SOUP: Cooked over a wood-fueled fire. I guess this is not standard, as the family thought it was hilarious when I mentioned it.

                The same stand was also selling grilled meat. Antigua Daily Photo has a nice picture of grilled meat stands at fairs and a funny story about Chris Columbus and crew eating grilled meat when they landed in America. One readers comment “He was looking for gold and found BBQ. Well, I guess he did find “gold.”
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...

                The chicken soup had an hour to go before it was ready and I didn't feel like waiting. I watched as veggies were added and the two cooked chickens were pulled from the pot.

                BOTTLED SODA: Other than liquados the only non alcoholic beverages were local bottled drinks such as Ticky bottled pineapple soda and Spur cola. The Spur cola wasn’t as good as Pepsi, Coke or RC Cola (which is great in GT). However, like all the sodas here, because they use sugar and not HFCS they are pleasant.

                GALLO BEER: And more Gallo beer. There were almost a dozen stands selling Gallo beer. It was a bit impressive the amount of beer consumed. There would be two guys at a table and maybe twenty empty bottles. Yet, there were no bad drunks there. People seemed to be enjoying the evening, getting plastered and then wandering home. People behaved.

                I always wanted to get a photo of the bread vendors who sell rolls from huge straw baskets on the back of bicycles. I don’t know if he was selling to stands at the fair or just passing through.

                The little produce stand might have just been there to supply the food vendors.

                Antigua Daily Photo has pictures on other fair food
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2006/12/...
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/tag/feri...

                Gratuitous photo and information about Ferris wheels
                http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2007/07/...

                “Ferris wheels are another element of the Guatemalan fair. There is at least one Ferris wheel, but more often two or three of different sizes. The Ferris wheel is known here by these names rueda de Chicago(Chicago Wheel), rueda de la fortuna (wheel of fortune) and vuelta al mundo (around the world). Fairs are made up by all kinds of ambulant stands. Fairs are like accordions, they grow or shrink depending of the size of the community or town.”

                This probably wasn't an "A" list fair. It was a small town version, but one of the bigger events in Milagro.