It’s 1914 in Granada, Nicaragua, and Maria Luisa Cisnero Lacayo—known in these parts as La Loca or “the Crazy Woman”—is racking her brain for a way to market her signature street food of soft boiled yucca, crispy fried chicharròn (pork skin), and spicy salad. The local baseball stadium is where La Loca sells her food, and as the popularity of the game picks up, she’s been forced to compete against more and more wailing vendors.
One day, La Loca looks across the way and sees a poster advertising a health tonic with the phrase “Vigorón Vigoriza!” (“Vigorón invigorates!”) with a muscular man taking a bull by its horns. She likes the way it sounds, especially when yelled, and decides to apply this revitalizing name to her own plate of food. A century later, La Loca’s creation has become the official dish of her city.
Vigorón, always served on a banana leaf, is a trio of butter-soft yucca, pork rinds, and a vinegar-and-chili-soaked salad of cabbage and a tangy local fruit called mimbro. In Nicaragua, vigorón is a street food eaten with your hands, and the dish has gained a reputation for causing bad manners. Locals say it’s so addictive, you can’t help but suck every last bit from your fingers.
Need to Know
In present-day Granada, new characters dominate the vigorón scene. The most famous vendor goes by El Gordito (“The Little Fat Man”). His most formidable competitor is just a few blocks away, run by La Pelona (“The Bald Woman”).