Popularity of El Salvador’s pupusas celebrated at Arizona food festival

Every November, Arizona joins in celebrating a beloved Salvadoran dish at the annual Arizona Pupusas Festival in Phoenix.

Pupusas are made of thick corn flour tortillas stuffed with flavorful meat, beans, vegetables, cheese or a combination of all four.

“Food is a way to connect people and has the power to show the positive aspects of where someone comes from,” said restaurant owner Yesenia Ramirez.

The festival is held the second Sunday in November in front of the Salvadoreño Restaurant #2 in Phoenix, one of four Salvadoran restaurants owned by the Ramirez family.

The family has been organizing the event for the past seven years as a way to promote pupusas and celebrate Salvadoran culture.

“(We do this) so we don’t forget where we came from, so our kids who were born here know the foods,” said Miriam Ramirez, the matriarch of the family.

Sunday’s festival featured Latin music, dancing, and kids games, but pupusas were the main attraction and people waited in long lines to place an order.

More than 4,000 people attended this year’s festival, according to a post on the event’s Facebook page.

“For those that did make it through and hung in there despite the long wait times, we thank you. We had four vendors, but that was not enough given the turnout,” said Yesenia Ramirez in a Facebook post.

“I think pupusas would be a great way for people to learn about the culture and try new food, ” said Allison Ghan, one of those who waited in line for pupusas.

“When I was an ASU student I went down to El Salvador with a group and had a lot of pupusas so I was excited to hear about the festival,” said Ghan.

The festival attracted pupusa lovers of all ethnic backgrounds and showcased the Central American immigrant community in Arizona.

“The Salvadoran community is growing every day,” said Freddy Vargas, Vice Consul of El Salvador for Arizona and New Mexico who was in Phoenix for the Arizona Pupusa Festival.

“We’re part of the Hispanic influence and economic engine for the United States.”

Mexican restaurants dominate in Arizona but no one can deny the popularity of pupusas.

“(Mexicans) love our food even though it isn’t spicy, even though we don’t put chilli in our food, they still come and they love it,” said Ramirez.