Apparently, There's A Wrong Way To Eat These Pupusas Sold At Costco

First thing's first — there isn't really a "wrong" way to eat anything. People are naturally proud and defensive of their cultures, so unfortunately they become gatekeepers about the right way to eat something. That being said, there are certainly optimal ways to eat culturally significant dishes, and as one TikTok video shows, the same applies to these pupusas sold at Costco.

Pupusas are thick tortillas made from corn or rice flour that are usually stuffed with fillings like meat, cheese, or vegetables, and they're the national dish of El Salvador. The pupusas sold at Costco are made by Del Real Foods and feature birria and cheese as the main flavors. So, what exactly did the creator of the previously mentioned TikTok video do wrong that started a comment-section controversy? They dressed their pupusas with lemon juice and birria consomé, which prompted viewers to aggressively point out the inauthenticity of their ways. It could be argued that they wisely decided to complement the birria filling with birria stewing juices and then cut the fattiness of the meat and cheese with acidity from the lemon — but according to some on the internet, that's the wrong way to eat pupusas (bought in an American supermarket mass-produced for an American audience, by the way).

How to eat pupusas like you're in El Salvador

What the TikTok commenters should have added in their not-so-constructive feedback is that if you want to enjoy your Costco pupusas as a Salvadoran diner might, there are more traditional components to dress them with. The first thing you'd find next to any plate of pupusas would be curtido, a pickled slaw made with cabbage, carrots, onions, and herbs. Curtido provides the same acidity lemon would, but adds freshness and textural contrast from the crunch of the vegetables. This accompaniment can easily be made at home, so you can use it liberally when eating pupusas and the like — it's a great compliment to savory food.

The second thing you're likely to find on a pupusa table in El Salvador is a simple salsa roja, or red salsa. Contrary to salsas in Mexico (or birria consomé for that matter), this salsa roja isn't meant to impart spice, but rather to add more freshness and some umami from the tomatoes, as well as bind everything together into perfectly composed bites. It's these unforgettable bites that make pupusas such an underrated dish, and why Salvadorans might be quick to call you out when you're eating them differently than the cultural norm. But just remember — even when you think you're eating these pupusas incorrectly, Costco made them wrong in the first place by adding birria, a Mexican meat stew, into El Salvador's national dish. Come on, Costco!