The Delights of Feria Gastronomica

Concepcion de Ataco

El Salvador

March 12, 2017

The small towns and villages that pepper Ruta de las Flores in western El Salvador wear a somnolent air most of the week but come alive on the weekends. The chicken bus that trundles along this scenic route is crowded with locals and a smattering of tourists and is joined by a steady stream of cars as Salvadorians drive in from San Salvador to towns of Juayua and Ataco among others. The weekend Feria Gastronomica and the artesanal markets are in full swing.

Shopfronts lining the cobblestoned streets are festooned with colorful wares and most spill out on the street. Vendors set up shop selling local arts and crafts. Handcrafted wooden toys include slingshots and old fashioned tops. Neat rows of beaded jewelry vie for space with pottery and terracotta. Handmade candles and incense are artistically arranged tempting customers. Stalls near the market are piled with fresh fruits and vegetables and small bags of freshly cut fruits finds eager buyers. Small bands of musicians play at street corners and people stroll along the congested streets. Many of the streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic and temporary tents are set up spreading out from the central park. The tantalizing smell of food perfumes the air and the restaurants do a brisk business at the large covered communal eating area. Children and adults alike delight in quirky rides and line up for treats from the street vendors. Not quite frenetic, this has a mellow feel as I join the throngs in sampling foods and drinks. To my delight there are quite a few that I don’t recognize.

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