Mi Español Ain’t That Good/ My Spanish No es Muy Bueno

Well….It’s not all that bad. Just don’t ask me to read or write, or conduct a mature and intelligent conversation (finance, politics, technology…none of that) in Spanish, and I’ll be fine. Unfortunately, there are recipes I would like to try that aren’t in English. And this has lead to some interesting discoveries. Let me explain….

Not too long ago, my husband and I went to La Santaneca, my favorite Salvadorean restaurant. To be fair and honest, I haven’t been to too many. But, this is the one I grew up on so I’m rather fond of it for reasons beyond the taste of the food. Somehow, I had let nearly a year pass since my previous visit. And so, I felt compelled to order all me favorites. (“ME” what? hehehe…I kinda sound like a pirate. I meant to say “my favorites” sorry.)

My husband’s order = the small plate all the way in the back (top right hand corner) My order = everything else 🙂

Pan Con Pavo (bread with turkey aka turkey sandwich- but it also comes with a special gravy ‘n’ stuff), Yuca frita con chicharron, (fried yuca and pork), Platanos Fritos con frijoles y crema (fried plantains with cream beans and cream – similar to sour cream), and of course a Pupusa! That’s what I ordered.

My husband ordered 3 Pupusas.

Oh and we each ordered a Tamrindo Grande (Large tamarind water).

We probably should have sat at a larger table.

Needless to say, I was full after dinner. And that’s when I sadly remembered that the Salvadorian pastry shop Rico Pan (Yummy Bread) was just down the block on the corner. Ooooooo I wanted some semita alta (tall….. semita?). But at the same time, I really didn’t…..soooo full! I simply asked my husband to drive slowly as we passed the bakery’s window so I could stare longingly.

I decided I would simply go online, do some research, and make my own seminta alta. Easier said than done. First, the recipes I found seemed to all be for semita pacha (flat…..semita) Which in my opinion, can often taste like two sheets or sugary cardboard with a pineapple preserve filling – very dry. Occasionally, you may encounter one that isn’t cardboard like, but actually enjoyable. Semita alta on the other hand, has a tall fairly moist cake that accompanies the pineapple preserve between the sheets of cardboard (just to be clear, its not actual cardboard).

Semita Alta.
The prices at Rico Pan aren’t this great. I have a feeling this semita was being sold outside the U.S.

Now, I never encountered semita alta until I was already an adult. As a kid, all semita was semita pacha. I’m not sure when the better one came along. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who felt semita had a cardboard like texture. Or, my family was hiding it from me (not cool).

Now problem number 2 is that most of the recipes for semita (despite not being for the kind of semita I wanted) are not in English. So, I struggled to read through them. And well….deciphering the ingredients was more challenging than I thought it would be. But, despite my overly literal translations, I think I got some of it figured out

  • harina fuerte (strong flour) = bread flour
  • harina suave (soft flour) = pastry flour
  • Royal (royal) = Royal brand baking powder
  • Levadura -la que usan en las panederias (leavener that they use in bakeries)= yeast – in what form?…I don’t know.

Now it took quite a bit of time for me to figure that much out. So, I tried looking for semita recipes in English. And the ones I found….they were…well most obviously translated. Some of them called for “soft flour,” “strong flour,” “integral flour” HUH???!!!! and the use of a “mixing robot” hmmmm……are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Well, It looks like they do exist in real life….

So, I guess I’ll just put making semita on the back burner for now. At least until I get my hands on my own mixing robot. (They couldn’t have meant electric mixer or anything. right?)


5 comments on “Mi Español Ain’t That Good/ My Spanish No es Muy Bueno

  1. Hehehe! Did I ever tell you obe of my first jobs in Panama was to translate a cookbook from the Martha Stewart of PTY into English! I can help a wee, wee bit. Levadura in Panama is regular powdered yeast that you need to activate first. We don’t have hard and soft flour, though. hilarious? Good luck, amiga!

    • No way! I had no idea. Good to know. Thanks.
      Btw, do they have “mixing robots” in Panama? How much will it cost to ship? J/K 🙂

  2. I had no idea that you had your own blog. I love it! You’re commentaries are hilarious. If you can get your hands on Abuelita Marta’s cook books (she was an amazing baker) and translation tips from Tia Ana Silvia…honey you’d be set! 😉 Oh and please remember I’m always available as a taste tester 🙂

    • Ooooo…so, does Tia Ana Silvia have Abuelita Marta’s recipes? Is that where they’re hiding? That’s good to know. And yes! please me a taste tester!

  3. Hi, I’ve encountered the same recepie issues when trying to cook salvadorean food. My husband always has cravings for food that remind him of home. So as a loving wife I try not always being successful. To make that Semite altar I’ve used all purpose and had it turn out ok using granular yeast that comes in the little envelopes. But, then I was curious and tried cake flour and it came out to grainy and dry. When you figure this out please share.

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