Cuisine and literature

Popular Nicaraguan food and authors

Cuisine and literature

Thanks to its historically fertile land, agriculture plays a central role in the economy of Nicaragua, with the main crops being rice, coffee, bananas, plantains and the yucca root.  Nicaragua’s literature and poetry are also crucial parts of Nicaragua’s culture and have had a huge role in forging the country’s cultural, political and social identity.


‘La comida Nica’, as Nicaraguans call it, dates back to pre-Columbian times and includes influences from the indigenous Miskito people, Spanish cuisine and Creole cuisine. The main recurring ingredient in Nicaraguan cuisine is corn. It is not only used in food but also in drinks such as pinolillo (pre-Columbian drink with cocoa, cinnamon and toasted ground corn) and chicha, as well as in desserts.

Other staples in Nicaraguan cuisine are rice and beans, which are even eaten for breakfast - Gallo Pinto (mixture of fried rice, onion, sweet pepper, red beans and garlic) is a particularly popular dish. Nicaraguans also make use of their wide variety of tropical fruits, such as papaya, jocote, avocado, yucca, banana and mangoes.  

Many less exotic herbs and spices are used too, like garlic, onion, oregano, cinnamon, cilantro and cacao. It is normal to mix sweet, savoury and sour in Nicaraguan cuisine to create a well seasoned yet non-spicy dish.

One interesting thing about Nicaraguan cuisine that may take Western expats some getting used to is the parts of the animal they eat. Cow’s udder, tail, stomach and brain as well as pork’s blood, hoofs and even skin are all on the menu.

Some aspects of Nicaraguan cuisine might seem a little uninviting to foreigners at first, but it is definitely worth tasting these delicious traditional dishes.


Literature, especially poetry, has played a huge role in forming Nicaragua’s national identity and culture. Nicaragua has had a tumultuous political history that often intertwined with the country’s literature as many of its poets were also politicians, revolutionaries and cultural leaders.

Giaconda Belli, Ernesto Cardenal (who both participated in the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza regime) and Salomón de la Selva are a few of the most influential revolutionaries. Cardenal became the Minister of Education and thus had an especially active role in shaping Nicaragua’s literary and cultural landscape.

The play “El Güegüense”, written by an unknown author, is considered the first major work of Nicaraguan literature, even being recognised by UNESCO. It is a world renowned satirical play that combines theater, traditional dance as well as Spanish and indigenous music.

Finally, Rubén Darío is probably Nicaragua’s most famous poet. A true icon of Nicaraguan culture, he was responsible for introducing Modernism to Nicaraguan and Spanish literature.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: