Nicaragan Cuisine

Agriculture

Nicaragua is mainly an agrarian country. More than half the population works on farms and 40% of the country’s area is used for farming and raising cattle. Most of the agricultural production is meant for export, mainly coffee followed by bananas, sugar, tobacco, sesame, beef and shellfish. In addition to this, rice and corn are grown in Nicaragua. The largest part of the rural population lives on subsistence agriculture and farms for personal use, mainly red beans, bananas and corn.

Corn – life basis

An important contribution of the New World to mankind is corn. Its origin is in Mexico or Central America, and according to legend it is a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the leader and chief deity of the Aztecs. He placed a grain of corn onto the lips of the first man and the first woman of the world so that they were able to think and work. Today corn is a staple on the nutritional schedule in Central America and Mexico: As a basic food it has manifold forms such as tortilla, gravy, dough and salad but also beverages like Pinol or Chicha. Tortillas are made of corn meal and roasted on a baking tin over an open fire. They are the most important staple food and come with almost every meal.

Culture:

It is said that Nicaragua is a country of poets and that everybody makes up poems. This may be an exaggeration, but literature certainly plays an important role. Ruben Darío and Ernesto Cardenal, two of the most important poets in the Spanish language, are cases in point. But there are other contemporary writers and poets of world renown: Gioconda Belli and Sergio Ramirez, both of whom are critical commentators of the Nicaraguan revolution. 

The motto of Nicaraguan taste in music could be this: Play it loud!

If you turn it down it will please you with its astonishing diversity and good musicians. The brothers Mejía Godoy are the most famous of all; they played an important role during the revolutionary years but continue their political and social work even today, in politically confusing and complicated times.

A good variety of salsa and merengue are played by Macolla and the Pacific coast band Dimensión Costeña who make their listeners aware of the thinly populated and neglected Atlantic coast.

Nicaragua’s traditional music is called Rancheras, original dance pieces which can be heard in any pub. Marimba bands of four and more musicians walk from restaurant to restaurant and play their songs for tips and on special occasions such as birthdays or for declarations of love. Norma Helena Gadea is the Nicaraguan Mercedes Sosa, and she is an excellent singer of Nicaraguan and Latin American folklore.

© 2011 An article by Gerd Schuman