The quesillo is originally from Nagarote and La Paz Centro in the department of León, but is now enjoyed all over the country. The word literary means “little cheese” and the basic ingredients are always Nicaraguan cheese, tortilla, onions and vinegar. In the rapid, pun-filled Spanish spoken in Nicaragua, the phrase “claro que si” (of course) is often changed into “claro quesillos“.
The dish is similar to the Mexican Quesadilla in how it is made but have a very different flavor. This is due to the vinegar and the unique flavor of Nicaraguan cheese.
They are a popular snack to eat on-the-go and you can usually find quesillo stands in places that see a lot of traffic, such as bus stops and gas stations. The highway that runs from Managua, the capital, to León, the second largest city, is dotted with quesillo stands.
- A corn tortilla
- Nicaraguan cheese. Nicaraguan cheese is white, soft and a bit chewy.
- Finely chopped onions pickled in vinegar
- Sour cream
How to make a quesillo
1.) Warp the tortilla around the cheese.
2.) Add pickled onions in vinegar.
3.) Top off with salt and a dash of sour cream.
Quesillo is normally served in a small plastic bag to keep the vinegar in.
In Nagarote, the onions are pickled in banana vinegar. This gives the dish a unique taste that is hard to replicate in your home. Unless you just happen to have banana vinegar on your shelfs.
The term quesillos can cause some confusion when people from various parts of Latin America meet because it denotes very different dishes depending on your country of origin. In Colombia it is a double cream cheese wrapped in a plantain leaf, while a Mexican quesillo is a type of string cheese sold in balls of varying size. If you order quesillo in Venezuela you will get a desert made from eggs, condensed milk and caramel – completely devoid of any cheese.