Monday, December 17, 2012

Snowflake Quesadillas in El Salvador

The view between San Ignacio and El Pital, Chalatenango
A storm had been predicted for the day of our trek up the Pital mountain in Chalatenango, El Salvador. Our vehicle trudged up the steep cement road that was still dry. First we visited
La Palma, a town where a local artist trained many of the locals to paint his colorful and simple designs on wood to make souvenirs that are sold all over the country. Shortly up the hill, we found San Ignacio, which is known for wooden crafts as well, except the boxes they make are darker in color and usually have small flowers in their designs. A lot of vegetables are sold from farms nearby that tourists visit to pick their own.
And then we stopped to admire the view further up the road. "This makes the entire trip worth it, " I thought. We had successfully seen the incredible view, even though some days the bright green meadows and cornfields below  can be entirely covered with clouds, making you feel like a cherub playing on a harp in the sky.
But we hadn't even reached the mountain yet!
We began walking up a dusty road, past children emerging from side paths to sell us flowers. It didn't take long for almost everyone (except for four of us) to give up and be thankful for a pickup truck that rolled by to take us to the top of the mountain. There we arrived at the same time as our more flushed and athletic friends.  The giant ferns and other virgin forest plants covered the landscape, and pristine brooks flowed.
Wooden box above is from La Palma, Chalatenango
When we returned to the restaurant/hotel, we enjoyed a piece of quesadilla, a thin cake that contains grated cheese and is sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is somewhat like an onion cheese supper bread, except that it's sweet, doesn't have any onion, and therefore makes a tasty dessert.
The highest point of El Salvador is El Pital in Chalatenango, at 3200 m, equal to that of Bogota in Colombia, and it is usually cooler than the rest of the country.
Quesadillas are eaten year-round in El Salvador. Nonetheless, Christmas is all about keeping old traditions, but making your own new ones as well.... Who is to say that making snowflake quesadillas won't be the next holiday dessert to make again year after year?

Quesadilla Snowflakes

Recipe adapted from Vilma G. de Escobar's Comida Tipica

2 cups of flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
8 oz. of Parmesan cheese or Petacones or Queso Duro or Morolique
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of margarine, melted
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sugar

Preheat oven at 325 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together and pour into two greased and floured jelly roll pans. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 25 minutes.

To make shapes, use a metal cookie cutter, and cut the cake into the desired shapes. I used a comfort grip large cookie cutter.


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