Hola homies! It’s your girl, Bernie, author of Herencia Cookbook, full of authentic SalviMex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy) twist. In today’s post, I will answer the question: what is the difference between Mexican and Salvadorian culture? I will also review some similarities. As some of you may know, I am half Mexican-American and half Salvadorian-American. I am 100% Latina and proud, and I was born and raised in South East Los Angeles. For fun, in today’s post, I want to discuss the similarities and differences between Mexican and Salvadorian culture! Let’s get to it.
What is the difference between Mexican and Salvadorian Culture?
First off, these are two completely different countries. Mexico is in North America. El Salvador is in Central America. Both countries speak Spanish. Interestingly enough, however, some words sound identical but have completely different meanings. For fun, let’s review some of these words together.
A Mexican quesadilla consists of a tortilla folded over with cheese inside. It is savory. And, it is a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine. These types of quesadillas pair well with a Mexican coca-cola, an agua fresca, or even a Mexican beer!
A Salvadorian quesadilla is sort of like a cheesecake and pound cake in one. With sesame seeds on top, it is an absolutely delicious type of pan dulce! Paired with a coffee, a quesadilla can make for a very comforting snack.
Ok, on my Mexican side of my family, we would use the term mañoso to indicate someone was picky. Maybe they had a lot of mañas, or habits. As a child, I was a picky eater and was often jokingly called a mañosa.
Now on my Salvi side, this term has a totally different meaning. My mom Salvadorian-American. She was one of the only one of her relatives in the states, so she assimilated into American culture quite quickly and I didn’t know about this nuance with the word mañoso until I met my husband’s family. See, my husband is also Salvadorian-American. For them, the word mañoso refers to theft! A thief may have sticky hands, or manos. Good thing I didn’t tell my suegros that my referred to as a mañosa in my childhood. They would have thought they were welcoming a kleptomaniac into the family!
When Mexicans and Mexican-Americans hear the term ensalada, they may think of a salad. Some greens and dressing. Simple enough.
Now, if you ask a Salvadorian or Salvadorian-American about ensalada, they may tell you all about a refreshing drink! Yes, for Salvis, an ensalada is like a type of fruit punch with–get this– actual, finely chopped fruit floating on the top. My mom used to make this for me in the summers and I loved it so much. It’s a little sweet. It’s totally refreshing. And every now and then, you encounter a tiny bite of crisp apple or juicy pineapple!
Mexican tamales are wrapped in a corn husk. You put in raw masa and cooked meat in a juicy sauce and then slow cook the tamales. When eaten, the masa is typically firm, but very delicious.
Salvadorian tamales are wrapped in a banana leaf. The masa and filling are actually cooked beforehand. They are wrapped up, and sometimes even tied up, and slow-cooked. The masa is so gooey and delicious.
Have you ever played Mexican bingo or Loteria? It is a fun bingo game with colorful images. My husband and parents and I had a low key New Years’ Eve to kick off 2020 (I was about 6 weeks pregnant) and the 4 of us played Loteria all night. We took turns reading off the cards and gave bonus points for whoever did the best funny voices or jokes while reading off cards. When I was a child, my cousins and I would play at my Nana’s house, using raw beans to mark off our bingo spots. It is safe to say that Loteria is a huge part of Mexican and Hispanic culture!
Did you know Salvadorians now have their own version of Loteria? This can add a whole new layer of fun, inside jokes to family games. I have personally purchased 3 sets myself: one to keep at my in-laws, one to keep my parents’ and one to keep in my home! You can check it out for yourself here.
What are the Similarities Between Mexican and Salvadorian Culture?
Although Mexico and El Salvador are two completely different countries, they are part of Latin America.
Additionally, both El Salvador and Mexico are Spanish speaking countries.
I often visit my family in El Salvador or Mexico, and I am happy to say that both sides of my family are so welcoming and hospitable! There are cousins whom I have not seen in years who greet me so warmly. Next thing you know, we are joking around like no time has passed between us at all! Do you agree that nearly all Latinos are family-oriented?
Natives Conquered by Spaniards
The Native people of what is now Mexico and El Salvador were conquered by Spaniards. In that way, you can say that we are both the colonized and the colonizers. It is a lot to unpack. That being said, it is something that can help to unite us as we rise above. I, for one, am a proud Latina and am so grateful to have been born into a rich, vibrant culture. I would not change it for the world!
How do you feel about this? What would you say are the differences between Mexicans and Salvadorians? How about the similarities between Salvadorians and Mexicans? Do you agree with the points I made? Why or why not? Here, at Herencia Cookbook, we would love to know! Please let us know in the comments. Finally, are you interested in learning to make some Salvadorian or Mexican foods at home? Then check out our blog and our book for authentic Salvi Mex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy) twist.
Herencia Cookbook is currently available for sale on Amazon.